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Cartoon Network takes stock of retail blueprint

Cartoon Network is hoping that a three-pronged plan of attack at select Warner Bros. Studio Stores will yield a long-term retail strategy for licensed products based on its classic and original properties....
August 1, 1998

Cartoon Network is hoping that a three-pronged plan of attack at select Warner Bros. Studio Stores will yield a long-term retail strategy for licensed products based on its classic and original properties.

‘We’re testing [Cartoon Network] merchandise with point-of-purchase displays in some stores [that receive media support]. We’re also testing it in other stores without, to see what difference we get [in terms of sales],’ says Lisa Fernow, VP of global marketing and strategy at Cartoon Network.

The latest in the Great Retail Experiment is the shop-in-shop concept called Cartoon Network Shops that was unveiled in 15 Warner Bros. Studio Stores in early June.

‘Basically, they were designed to give consumers a Cartoon Network spin within the Warner Bros. Studio Store context,’ says Fernow.

The Cartoon Network Shops, which are supported by television ads, consist of separate enclaves featuring Cartoon Network signage and 50 skus covering all major categories. Some of the properties represented include Dexter’s Laboratory, Space Ghost, Cow and Chicken and Droopy Dog.

All products in the Cartoon Network Shops are exclusive, such as the Cow and Chicken T-shirts, which play on the ‘got milk?’ ads with phrases like ‘got udders?’ and ‘got eggs?,’ or the Dexter’s Laboratory drinking glasses, which look similar to the beakers physicists use, complete with measurement charts on the sides.

The decision to promote Cartoon Network merchandise more prominently in the Warner Bros. stores was based on the company’s desire to showcase its newer properties such as Dexter’s Laboratory, and some of its lesser-known classics like Droopy Dog, as well as on the promising sales performance of Cartoon’s Scooby-Doo merchandise. According to Warner Bros. Consumer Products division, Scooby’s 75 skus have sold phenomenally well, making the brand a top-five seller at its stores since the products first appeared two years ago. The move also made sense economically, adds Fernow, after both parent companies, Turner Broadcasting Systems Inc. and Warner Bros., respectively, merged in 1996.

‘Warner Bros. really knows how to operate its business, and we understand the DNA of our characters. What we want to have is a kind of alchemy when we collaborate on projects. In the case of the Studio stores, that meant our creative director worked on the designs along with the Warner Bros. designers,’ says Fernow.

Even though the Warner Bros. stores represent secure distribution channels that Cartoon Network can use to effectively promote its product on a larger scale than in other retail outlets, the company began testing its own theme store in May.

Located in the Six Flags Over Georgia theme park in Atlanta, the 3,000-square-foot Cartoon Network Superstore is the only retail outlet selling Cartoon Network merchandise exclusively. Though the Superstore has not yet released any numbers, Fernow says sales projections are on target, despite sagging park attendance . SA

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