Television

Cartoon Network to create new toon - gets viewers into the act

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MUMBAI: So far, it has sourced content from Indian animation companies and has begun to speak Hindi at almost all hours of the day. Now, Cartoon Network takes the localisation fetish to new heights.



In an innovative initiative timed to coincide with the rollout of conditional access in the country, Cartoon Network has announced the first interactive contest that will enable viewers to create a cartoon character to be developed into an animation short for the channel. The show in turn will be produced by a local Indian company.



For eight weeks beginning this month, Cartoon Network will visit over 600,000 kids in 600 schools in six cities, selling the Next Big Toon concept, enticing children to pick up pen and paper and apply their minds to creating a unique cartoon character, which could be man, animal, robot or just about anything. Help for the accompanying drawings and storyboard will be available at the channel's website www.cartoonnetworkindia.com.



Among the panel of art experts and teachers culled from around the country, is former UTV Toons president Ram Mohan. Turner Entertainment Network's senior vice president and general manager Ian Diamond says a local Indian animation company will also be given the charge of producing the one off animation short that will be aired on the channel in December 2003. 



"The idea," says Diamond, "is to balance entertainment with a positive way of thinking." Consequently, an integrated marketing plan spanning on-air, online and on-ground events will support the promotion, with associate sponsor Hewlett Packard providing its outlets for participants to download forms, practise their drawings and learn the rudiments of creating an animation character. The Network will also air special interstitials giving tips to help kids create their toon star.



While the targeted age group for the competition is the one between eight and 14, Diamond says with the varied viewership of the channel, even elders watching Cartoon Network are eligible to participate. Five runners up will also have their moment of glory with vignettes on the channel and consolation prizes of a HP Compaq personal computer. The Network has already tied in Joyco as the presenting sponsor for Next Big Toon, while Laughing Cow Cheese, HP Compaq, Kellogg's Chocos and Atlas Cycles are the associate sponsors.

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