Cartoon Network makes the step up beyond kids brands

MUMBAI: From small books come big words of advice! Cartoon Network is one channel which seems to be making the right moves when it comes to stretching revenue streams during recession.

Cartoon Network's Off-Channel Commerce group (OCCG) develops licencing and merchandising; publishing, theme parks, special events, retail and e-commerce. This includes all "off-channel" marketing strategies for the Cartoon Network brand including the Cartoon Network originals or Cartoon cartoons, to popularise and leverage their appeal beyond television. The channel's sales team is not merely offering entertainment superbrands on air but an environment and an experience which cuts across media platforms.

"We wish to offer creatively conceived fruitful partnerships to advertisers. There are several entertainment brands which we create, others which we have obtained from content suppliers. Our mandate is to popularise, brand (these new acquisitions), exploit and extend them to generate revenues," says the recently promoted Turner Entertainment Networks AsiaPac regional entertainment, advertising and sales vice-president Soumitra Saha.

Does the 360 degrees marketing spin yield results for advertisers? Saha says: "Recently, Britannia (Cream Treat biscuits) did a comics book deal with us and inserted a direct response ad within the comic book. They obtained 100,000 response entries from kids and extended the terms of the arrangement by another six months."

Hindustan Lever (HLL) has also benefited from similar exercises in the past and the Kwality Wall's Max promo summer bonanza promo 'Bano Toonstar' promo launched on 20 March claims to be the biggest of them all. Cadbury's Bournvita also conducted a similar exercise in a promo involving multiple characters. Some of the other clients who have tied up for similar deals include: Nestle, Mattel, Funskool, Weekender, NECC (national egg coordination committee).

Saha elaborates: "We have engaged in aggressive marketing and promotions effort which encompassed an entire 360 degrees sweep (ground events, website, collaborative marketing, direct mail, public relations amongst others). Consider some statistics for the Toons cricket event which we conducted in Mumbai recently: we had 80,000 people attending the event which is 90 per cent more than what pop super star Michael Jackson managed at the same venue."

Cartoon Network has also tried to effectively leverage its online presence (India specific website) and currently have 100,000 registered unique users. The page views have leaped to 3 million, Saha claims.

This has provided more opportunities to enhance revenue streams. "The cumulative impact of all these initiatives has ensured that advertisers are more open to forging alliances with our marketing teams," says Saha.

Every year, the channel changes its definition of traditional and non-traditional advertisers. "The big guys such as Unilever's HLL, Nestle, Britannia, Cadbury's, Mattel, Funskool, Weekender are all upping their spends on the channels. We have also bagged NECC (national egg coordination committee) and Hindalco Aluminium foils," adds Saha. Hindalco's Aluminum foils eulogises safety measures for packaging eatables.

Cartoon Network has also leveraged the fact the children to adults viewership ratio is 60:40. "Some time back, we had conducted our pester power study and the research findings showed that children play a role in influencing decisions. Recently, we have got ad support from consumer durables, automobile companies (Hyundai) and even telecom companies (Nokia). The lubricant sector hasn't supported us on air as yet but they have an on-ground licencing deal with us through the OCCG," Saha points out.

Well, do these efforts supplement existing revenue streams? "The deals conducted by the OCCG are an addition to the on-air ad revenues. In fact, I must add that the OCCG makes a substantial contribution to the bottom-line," says Saha.

It looks as if a David (kids channel) will soon give the Goliath (mass entertainment channels) a run for their money!

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