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Toons in tinsel town

Cartoon Network goes to Bollywood.

By Anusha Subramanian | Print Edition: August 12, 2007

From the small screen to the silver one is just a hop, skip and jump away. Cartoon Network, a part of Turner International, is stretching its wings from television to Hindi films. Its global licensing and merchandising company, Cartoon Network Enterprises (CNE), has tied up with two films to develop specific merchandise as well as for in-film placements. One is a children's flick called Bhoothnath, a BR Films production starring Amitabh Bachchan, Shah Rukh Khan, and Juhi Chawla; the other is ostensibly a futuristic sci-fi film curiously called Love Story 2050, a Harry Baweja and Adlabs Films production starring Harman Baweja and Priyanka Chopra. This is the first of its kind tie-up for merchandise for any international media company with Bollywood movies, says Jiggy George, Executive Director, CNE, India and South Asia. "We wanted to see if CNE could do something which is not related to TV at all.

Jiggy George


Our first move on this front in India was with Hollywood film Spiderman-3, by partnering with Marvel for merchandise. As Bollywood gets more professional and organised, producers are also looking at monetising content in every which way. That's how Bhoothnath and Love Story 2050 happened for us," adds George.

CNE's involvement will be right from making creatives for the film to building products around it. For Bhoothnath, for instance, CNE will launch toys-which will be embedded into the movie-stationery, home furnishings and publishing like colour books and note books, to name a few. In Love Story 2050, CNE will create futuristic toys such as robots, stationery, home furnishing, story books, note books and pc games.

"We will then use the footage from the movie as promotion tabs to promote the film and the products across television channels before the release of the film," says George. CNE will operate as an agent and is estimated to pocket a 50 per cent commission on the sale of products.

CNE started off initially as a promotion licensing company globally six years ago but launched consumer products only in 2005. Today, in India, CNE has nine properties and over 2,000 products that are available across 2,500 retail outlets nationwide. According to George, the CNE division has been growing at 50 per cent annually and contributes 12 per cent to Turner India's revenues.

Going forward, CNE has plans to launch its own stores in India, although they won't roll out immediately. "As of now, we want to do little corners in large stores. We want to see how this picks up and translates into gains before we launch our own full-fledged stores," he says.

Meantime, Turner International India plans to take Cartoon Network and pogo beyond the realm of television and extend it to provide a complete lifestyle brand experience. Through CNE, Turner International India is setting up two theme parks in Delhi, Cartoon Network Townsville in Noida and Planet pogo in Rohini, in partnership with International Recreation Parks Private Limited (IRPPL) and Unitech Amusement Parks Limited (UAPL).

The total investment for the two parks is Rs 550 crore, to be equally shared by the three partners. While Planet pogo is scheduled to open to public by end 2007, the gates of Cartoon Network Townsville are slated to open by 2008.

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