Television

Disney coming? Cartoon Network believes localisation gives it the edge

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2002 will be the year of intensified localisation for kiddies' channel Cartoon Network. 

Govindan - Cricket to reward viewer loyalty

The channel that started going desi in February 2001, managed to climb to the number two position in the Hindi market in the 5 - 9 pm band by December (close on the heels of Star Plus), according to VP, marketing and PR Hema Govindan. The rapid rise in rankings is due to local acquisitions like Pandavas and Sinbad, bought from Pentamedia Graphics, which have paid off handsome ratings and Govindan sees the channel going in for more Indian folklore in animation. "Not just Indian stories, we are looking at acquiring animation from Japanese studios too, which are creating shows whose essence appeals to Indian sensibilities", she says. 

The channel is shifting gears to cope 

with the imminent entry of Disney, although Govindan insists that some competition would only keep Cartoon Network fighting fit. In the last few months, the channel revamped its programming franchises and taken a whole new look at promotions, which too have received a dose of localisation. That the channel is not sparing any efforts to maintain viewer loyalty and phenomenise toon characters is clear from the massive promotion that accompanies its second Toon Cricket event in Chennai and Mumbai this year.

Although Govindan is reluctant to put a figure on the huge promo blitz, she admits it is 'massive, probably the largest in scale for the year.' Apart from the hoardings and the ads on FM and local cable channels, there will be a 'toon mobile', a 17-foot open float depicting cricket net sessions that will move through the cities, with toon characters in tow, handing out passes in schools and entertaining the younger generation. Besides, the channel has run a contest for selecting the teams and will be flying down five children from their home towns to watch the match live. 

The channel's Night Shift, launched in November is targeting an entire new viewership comprising teens and young adults. Not surprisingly, the move has widened the channel's ad client base, with clients like Gili's diamonds entering into tie-ups for Valentine's Day packages. While Govindan says it is early days to gauge the increase in viewership post the launch of Night Shift (timed to wean adults away from soaps and thrillers on mainstream channels), she says the channel currently reaches between 12 to 15 million Indian households.

Announcing the details of 'Toon Cricket 2002', Govindan said that the three-hour match will be held at the Andheri Sports Complex on 24 February. Beverage conglomerate Pepsi is the main sponsor. The co-sponsors are Solana, Colgate, Cadbury Gems, Boost, ACT II Popcorn, TI Cycle's. Positioning as a highly interactive event, she said that cricket was chosen because today's cricketer's are role models for aspiring youngsters. The initiative is targeted at kids as well as the young at heart. The tagline is 'It's a mad game but soomeone's got to play it'. The network hopes that it will make audiences as well as rival channels aware that the toons seek a larger slice of the action pie.

In a move inspired by the ESPN Star Sports show 'Super Selector' the channel invited toon addicts to be 'Super Selectors'. The channel claims that thousands of entries were received in a contest to decide who the captains should be and 450 winners will be given passes to the event. Elaborating further on the strategy, Govindan said that the aim is to blur the line between the real world and the toon world. To achieve this the rules of the game have been tweaked to make it unusual and refreshing. The tie-up with Pepsi involves hoardings where cricketers who appear in the cola's ads give hilarious tips to the toons.

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