Television

"I see Cartoon Network as a lifestyle brand" : Ian Diamond senior vice-president and general manager of Turner Entertainment Networks Asia Inc

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With a longish nose and speaking style that is slightly high-pitched, Ian Diamond, senior vice president and general manager of Turner Entertainment Networks Asia Inc fits in a like T in his role as the head of the Cartoon Network.

But don?t get taken in by the looks or his casual way of conveying important things. Because behind those round spectacles, and also ear studs which Diamond sports at times, are eyes that do not let much details go by and there is also a mind which takes shrewd business decisions.
Based in the regional headquarters of the AOL Time Warner company, Diamond is responsible for the continued development of Turner?s Entertainment brands, including Cartoon Network and Turner Classic Movies in the Asia Pacific. Starting as a creative director with Turner in June 1994, Diamond is responsible for overseeing and planning the on-air design, Network identity, image campaigns and creation of all interstitial material for both Cartoon Network and TCM.
Before joining Turner, Diamond has had extensive experience in the British TV industry and has also worked with Star?s Star Plus channel during the early 1990s. In this interview with indiantelevision.com?s Anjan Mitra in Delhi, Diamond holds forth on a number of subjects in between sipping tomato soup and telling budding female journalists that Cartoon Network does not promote violence or "anything that is mean and dark."

How is the Cartoon Network performing now in India if we compare it to a year ago?



I think we are going great guns. To give you an example our average day rating has increased 67 per cent period in the first two quarters of this (calendar) year compared to the corresponding period a year ago. I think this is not a bad performance.

"Kids will always be the core audience of ours even as we try to broadbase our viewership profile"

What is the current strategy that the Cartoon Network is following?



We are continuing to experiment and trying to broadbase the appeal of animation products. But what goes without saying is that kids will always be the core audience of ours even as we try to broadbase our viewership profile.

That is why we have acquired Ramayan: Legend of Prince Ram. It is still a very contemporary tale and so is the product. This goes to show that we take the business of animation seriously and feel there is immense potential in capturing viewership in other demographics (than kids) too.

Do you really feel that animations and cartoons have the potential to compete with general entertainment fare that is dished out by other channels, language notwithstanding?



You must be joking to suggest that we do not take our jobs seriously. Our aim is to make Carton Network the destination of all entertainment. And I strongly believe that animation content has the potential of being part of general entertainment.

So, how are you positioning the Cartoon Network brand?



The potential is immense. We are attempting to integrate the Cartoon Network brand in the lifestyles of people. All aspects of the lifestyle be it through on-air or on-ground promotion activities. Toonz cricket is one such example. Then we also have the licensing and merchandising activities as part of this initiative. We have also tied up with schools for below the line activities involving `Ramayan.?

I see Cartoon Network as a lifestyle brand and we are working towards that only.

Do you feel that TV channels have a role to play in shaping up people?s lives, especially kids?



I feel that a TV channel can be a friend, educator and an entertainer, all at the same time. However, if you mean that whether channels are promoting a certain kind of values, then I say that at Cartoon Network we have a very strong standards and practises value. We do not show anything that is mean and dark.

In the same vein I must tell you that the parents too have a monitoring role to play in a kid?s life. The onus is also on the parents to see what their kids should watch or are watching. Parents do have a monitoring role to play and cannot leave it to others to do this.

How has it been on the revenue front?



Everytime you ask this question I have to give you the standard line that we do not divulge numbers, especially those concerning revenues. But what I can tell you is that the ad sales have been quite appetising and in the first two quarters of this year it has been over 40 per cent (compared to the same period a year ago).

A lot of emphasis is being given to localisation. Has localisation helped increase revenues?



There you go again. But localisation has been a continuous growth curve.

"The onus is also on the parents to see what their kids should watch or are watching. Parents do have a monitoring role to play and cannot leave it to others to do this"

Have all these branding exercise and initiatives led to any change in the advertisers? profiles?



Yes certainly. We have started to get advertisers who cannot be termed to be targeting the kids in the strictest sense of word. Automobile companies, for example. Some big brands in this category advertise on Cartoon Network..

A look at the advertisers? list (updated uptill August 2002) shows that new and non-traditional advertisers include Beiersdorf India Ltd with its brand Hansaplast, Columbia TriStar, Duke Fashions with its Duke T-shirts, Effem India Pvt Ltd with pedigree dog food, Hindalco Industries, Adidas, BPL, Daewoo Motors with its Matiz car, Gitanjali Jewels and Himalaya Drug Company with its ayurvedic concepts

Is Cartoon Network looking at branded blocks of programming on non-English TV channels in India like the block on Zee TV?



I?ll not count anything out. But at the same time I also cannot go into specifics.

If you had a crystal ball, what would you see in store for Cartoon Network five years down the line in India?



Unfortunately I do not have a crystal ball and I am also not a fortune-teller either. Still, I would like to see Cartoon Network as a brand that will be maintaining its leadership position. I would also like the Cartoon Network brand to be omni-potent, having got integrated in the lifestyles of people here. I?ll also like to see the channel on the growth path, locally connected to the local people.

 

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