Two venerable names in entertainment and children’s educational products Hallmark Entertainment and Binney & Smith, makers of Crayola products have joined forces to create a new children’s entertainment line.
Beginning this summer, Hallmark and Binney & Smith will launch a series of prime-time specials airing Saturdays on CBS network television. The shows feature children as performers and are all based on adaptations of such classic adventure stories as 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, the legend of the Trojan Horse and Gulliver’s Travels. They are designed as both entertainment and as a means of promoting literacy and learning.
Later in the fall, these hour-long, live-action dramas Crayola Kids Adventures plus a new line of animated shows Crayola Presents Animated Tales will be launched in the home video market. The live-action series will be targeted at children age six and older, and the animated tales, based on such children’s classics as The Ugly Duckling, will be aimed at preschoolers.
When the home videos, priced at US$14.98, hit retail stores, they will arrive with a fully developed merchandising and multimedia program. Tie-in products include a 3-D coloring-book CD-ROM from IBM, books from Golden Books, paper products from Plymouth Paper, magazines from Meredith Publications, models from Revell Monogram and plush toys from Gund.
Crayola will support its Animated Tales videocassette pack with a 16-page activity and coloring book that comes with crayons and is tied in to characters in the shows.
Advertising support for the launch will come from four months of ads on network and national cable television, print ads and FSIs in newspapers and magazines, as well as promotion on Crayola packaging.
Bringing literary classics to video is consistent with Binney & Smith’s commitment to learning and literacy, says Richard Gurin, president and CEO. The videos recognize the importance of reading and learning ‘and of connecting that with other media,’ he says.
Through the selection of stories and themes, the videos are aimed at promoting reading and literacy among parents and children.
The educational goal is reinforced by the appearance of Livingstone, the Literacy Lion and Stanley, the Toucan, both life-like creatures created by Jim Henson’s Creature Shop and licensed by Hallmark to act as hosts of Crayola Kids Adventures. The characters provide background on the stories and their authors.
For Hallmark Entertainment, a subsidiary of Hallmark Cards, the series broadens the company’s demographics by entering deeper into the kids market, says Robert Halmi Jr., Hallmark Entertainment president and CEO.
‘It’s always been our goal to provide quality entertainment for kids on up to adulthood,’ says Steve Beeks, executive vice president of Hallmark Home Entertainment. ‘We have been looking to satisfy the need for quality entertainment that addresses parents’ expectations and that has the entertainment value kids want, as well as providing a learning experience.’
The shows have been supported by high production budgets and top production talent, plus extensive consumer research.
‘Home video is becoming more and more a packaged-goods business,’ says Glenn Ross, senior vice president of Hallmark Home Entertainment. ‘So much of what drives the business is brand recognition. We believe we have two great brand names that speak to both parents and kids. In Hallmark and Crayola, we have names associated with quality and trust. We see a powerful partnership in those brand names.
‘Also, we believe this provides a unique opportunity for retailers,’ adds Ross, who points out that the merchandising display affords those stores that carry Crayola products an opportunity to create a video sales outlet, and that video stores will benefit from the various cross-promotional tie-ins.
Hallmark plans to introduce about three new titles to each line every year. The live-action line has Moby Dick, The Odyssey and Stanley and Livingstone forthcoming, and the Animated Tales series is launching The Adventures of Mouse & Mole and Tales of the Tooth Fairies this fall, along with The Ugly Duckling.