Sneaking through a loophole in Disney’s 10-year exclusive contract with McDonald’s, Saban Entertainment has secured a Happy Meal tie-in to promote live-action series Mystic Knights of Tir Na Nog during next year’s May sweeps. The US$20-million promo will span North America and feature Happy Meals containing one of eight action figures based on Mystic Knights characters during a four-week period. Saban was able to hook up with McDonald’s because of a live-action exemption in the Disney deal.
Saban also announced deals with Campbell’s Soup’s Franco-American brand and master toy licensee Bandai to support the promotion. Campbell’s will feature Mystic Knights on cans containing Spaghettios shaped like the dragons, swords and castles appearing in the show. Sales of the cross-promotional pasta treat will start during next year’s first quarter and will be backed by ads on Fox Kids along with FSIs and POP displays beginning in April. The promo marks the second year of a three-year US$50-million partnership between Saban and Campbell’s.
Campbell’s also plans to team up with Bandai in a watch-and-win sweepstakes set to coincide with the video release of Mystic Knights next May, followed by a live tour including Bandai, Wal-Mart, Toys `R’ Us and Kids `R’ Us later in 1999. Finally, Bandai is hooking up with Wal-Mart next spring to sponsor a 5,000-square-foot travelling, inflatable play area called Intergalactic Encounter to promote Power Rangers: Lost Galaxy, a revamp of Saban’s flagship Power Rangers series.
Meanwhile over at Fox Family, the ad sales departments for Fox Kids Network, Fox Family Channel, Fox Kids Radio and Fox Kids Magazine are being consolidated into a single unit. This unit will report to Rick Sirvaitis, currently president of Fox Family ad sales. Sirvaitis will be taking over the responsibilities of present executive VP of Fox ad sales, Jean Rossi, who will join Fox Broadcasting president of sales Jon Nesvig in handling Fox national sales. Also, Lou Bortone takes over as senior VP, marketing and advertisig, responsible for media planning and placement and major events.
In his new position, Sirvaitis will also preside over ad sales for Fox’s new start-ups, The Boyz Channel and The Girlz Channel. He says he is not aware of any specific demand from advertisers for the channels, which target boys and girls separately, but adds he isn’t worried advertisers will find the audiences too narrow, either. ‘I don’t know that you could ever say that something is too targeted. It’s not like we’re trying to reach left-handed Czechoslovakians or anything.’
Sirvaitis adds that as of press time, Fox had not calculated any projected distribution figures for the new channels, so he
hasn’t yet been able to assemble concrete ad rate or design packages for the channels’ potential advertisers.