Cartoon Network wants kids to discover the magic that hides within everyone’s life.
In April, it launched ‘Animate Your World,’ a multifaceted public-service campaign designed to celebrate and inspire creativity in children. Implementing the program involves cooperation with cable systems, communities, educators and parents.
‘The value placed on creativity and learning creative skills is something that needs to be championed,’ says Betty Cohen, president of Cartoon Network Worldwide.
Cartoon Network began running three ‘Animate Your World’ public-service announcements on April 16. Another nine spots will debut throughout 1997.
The concept for ‘Animate Your World’ grew out of an examination of the question, what is it that people get out of cartoons? Cohen thought that since cartoons grow out of someone’s imagination, it would be appropriate for the cable channel to get behind the idea of stimulating and encouraging imagination in its audience’s daily life.
The cable channel consulted teachers to find out what creative thinking tools would be helpful for educators in the classroom, and transformed ideas such as brainstorming, daydreaming and free association into themes that run in the PSAs.
The ‘Animate Your World’ announcements use eye-catching, nontraditional animation techniques to drive home the point that what seems ordinary can be special. Each spot addresses how to be more inventive about how you perceive everyday life.
Cohen says the channel decided that if the program was to have any teeth, it would have to extend beyond mere PSAs. ‘We didn’t want to just put a few spots on the air and then wipe our hands and say the day is done,’ she says.
Cartoon Network has already conducted off-channel extensions of the program with cable operators like Warner Cable of Houston, Texas, and via grants to organizations that exemplify the spirit of ‘Animate Your World,’ such as the Big Apple Circus Clown Car Unit for its work with hospitalized kids.
Cartoon Network has challenged cable systems to create ideas for local activities and will fund and assist four cable affiliates to carry them out later in 1997.
In the fall, the third leg of the campaign kicks in when Cartoon Network provides participating Cable in the Classroom schools with study guides that offer teachers tangible ideas on implementing the program in classroom activities.
‘Right now, we’re seeding all of the ideas on the channel,’ says Cohen. ‘At some point, we’ll probably be asking kids to submit things to us that are the product of their own creativity that would air on the channel.’
Cohen views ‘Animate Your World’ as an evolving organism that will grow over time, even to the point perhaps of staging a national event or annual awards show.
Cartoon Network is conducting this initiative without advertising support. As the program grows, Cohen doesn’t rule out the addition of promotional partners to help extend it further.
At the end of the day, Cohen hopes that ‘Animate Your World’ shows kids that even if they aren’t prodigies, nonetheless, they can find a fun, creative outlet in which to explore their interests. ‘When people encourage creativity in others and find it in themselves, there actually can be tangible differences in daily life,’ she says.