Action is unfolding manifold at Turner’s licensing division, Cartoon Network Enterprises (CNE), which forayed into consumer products in May 2005. The segment that had otherwise seen the presence of only Disney products in a substantial way, has worked well for CNE as well and the entity is all geared to embark on various new deals and ventures in 2006.
The twin-pronged approach of the division continues, wherein not only will CNE focus on the promotional licensing aspect, but also on the growth of the consumer products. “There is too much happening on the consumer products front. In 2005, we were largely getting the act right. Moving forward in 2006, we will get in the expansion mode,” informed Jiggy George, Director, CNE, India and South Asia.
CNE is clear that the strength of the consumer products division derives out from the equity of Cartoon Network characters. On the girl brands, CNE will push Power Puff girl franchise in a big way. “It is a great brand, and by summer next year will take on the Barbies of the world,” asserted George.
On the boy brand side, CNE has Dexter and the acquired rights of Bey Blade. The latter has delivered very well for the division already. “With Bey Blade, the learning from Pokemon came into play and we have synergised everything from programming to the presence of the merchandising,” said George, adding, “Everyone involved – from the channel to Funskool – has profited in a big way, and you will still see a lot more action on this.”
Coming back to the products side of the business, CNE is in the process of launching a pre-school brand to take care of that side of the consumers. The brand is expected to hit the market in August 2006. Johnny Bravo is being positioned as the ‘tween’ brand and will see further line extension to be present across segments like apparel, stationery, gifts and novelties, toys, bags and accessories by Diwali 2006.
In addition to this, CNE is now confident in making noise around the products as well and a marketing campaign in association with Lilliput is scheduled to go on-air in January 2006. The tie-up with Bombay Dyeing is also shaping up and with this, the presence of CNE brands in the home décor segment materialises. The products also include home linen, bed sheets and so on. Bombay Dyeing outlets, too, like the other retail outlets will have CNE corners now.
In the New Year, CNE has forged a relation with sibling channel POGO as well. “We are already launching home videos for the original content like M.A.D. that the channel has presently. This is will begin in the four key cities of Mumbai, Delhi, Bangalore and Chennai plus Hyderabad and Pune,” divulged George.
Stores that have CNE presence include a cross section of names like Pantaloon, Lifestyle, Pyramid, Planet M and Odyssey.
With the consumer products, CNE becomes a touch and feel brand for the kid viewer in a significant way. This was further enhanced with the initiatives of the promotional licensing division, which, according to George, was “full go” in 2006. “You will see us partnering with at least eight to 10 brands. Some of the biggest tie-ups here as come for the Bey Blade brand,” he said.
The associations lined up for Bey Blade include ITC Foods (biscuit products), Frito Lays and Rasna. The third season of the series is set to break in March 2006 and much action is planned in that period. Another on-ground tie-up that CNE introduces in 2006 is related to the Cartoon Network Birthday Bash Franchise. The enterprise has inked a deal with the Tree House company for organising Birthday bashes, “The idea is to get the legit Cartoon Network experience to kids and build the CN Birthday Bash franchise further. The pilots of these will be seen in January in Mumbai and then these will be extended to the other cities.”
As is seen, quite a lot can be expected from the division in the New Year. George also observed that CNE has outdone its targets in terms of revenues in the year despite the fact the division has seen its share of problems in the launch phase, “I wouldn’t call them problems but challenges as they will sort themselves out in the longer run and much of this has to do with the distribution, penetration and availability of the CN brand to even the lowest common denominator.”
He observed that the growth in retail had opened many possibilities of ventures like CNE and even though the sector was not too organised at present, the growth pace was exciting enough. “An example is Lilliput itself. When we started with them, they were as many as 50 stores, and today they have doubled and going strong,” he added.
The presence of merchandising sector might still be scratching the surface in terms of tapping on to the potential of the segment. “If I have to give a napkin figure, the sector would be about Rs 300 crore,” George said, adding, “and growing further. In the overall kids’ segment, we are a small portion, but this is a great position to be in. We are an effective marketing tool in a space that is growing and will develop more with players like us.”
George is convinced that the need of the hour is to take care of distribution and replenish supplies as per the demand. “Sky is the limit with where you want to take this brand,” he added.