Since February starter Pokémon catapulted Kids’ WB! to frequent wins over Fox Kids on Saturday morning, it’s no surprise that the newly stripped exclusive is the centerpiece of the net’s fall schedule and marketing plans. The fall season debut on September 4 kicks off two weeks of Pokémania, in which the series airs three times a day Monday to Friday. Then, adopting the slogan, ‘Gotta catch `em all,’ the WB will air 52 all-new episodes of Pokémon in two adjoining slots on Saturday morning (9:30 a.m. and 10 a.m.), as well as weekdays at 7 a.m. and 3:30 p.m.
Pokémon also provides a powerful platform for Kids’ WB!’s only debuting series, Detention, in a 10:30 a.m. slot starting September 11. This sassy new toon from Warner Bros. TV Animation centers around a cast of middle-school kids who are detention regulars.
Despite the emphasis on Pokémon and newbie Detention, returning Saturday morning hit Batman Beyond is also highlighted in promotions. Other returning Saturday morning series include The New Batman/Superman Adventures at 8 a.m., Men in Black at 8:30 a.m. and the repackaged The Kids’ WB! Big Cartoonie Show at 11 a.m. with The Sylvester & Tweety Mysteries immediately following. Warner Bros.’ Histeria will also return at 7:30 a.m. weekdays.
According to senior VP of children’s programming Donna Friedman, Detention was developed by Warner Bros. TV Animation veteran Bob Doucette, who makes his debut as a show creator with the series. Detention’s irreverent humor and distinct graphic style reflect the Warner Bros. TV Animation tradition, but the series is also infused ‘with a contemporary, hip flare,’ Friedman says.
Friedman researched the show with groups of kids, and it worked well for the network’s six to 11 target, especially with girls. During her four-month tenure at the kid’s net, Friedman has demonstrated a research orientation that she picked up at her previous research-heavy Nickelodeon position. ‘When we look at the [kids] landscape, we see a huge upside in appealing to girls,’ Friedman says. This audience-broadening effort is also evidenced by the addition of a strong female counterpart to Batman in Batman Beyond (an African-American cyberspace whiz), as well as female characters in newly produced shorts for The Kids’ WB! Big Cartoonie Show.
Most promotions for the new fall lineup will center around the Warner Bros. release of 4Kids Entertainment’s Pokémon the Movie: Mewtwo Strikes Back in November and new Pokémon game releases from Nintendo. A November QSR promotion with Burger King will take advantage of 150 new characters introduced in new episodes of the series, says Lew Goldstein, co-president of marketing at the WB Network and Kids’ WB! The new Pokémon TV season will also be trumpeted from September 6 to 11, when episodes featuring the 20 most popular characters, as chosen in a vote held a month earlier, will be aired. Portions of kids’ character descriptions will be read over the air and 350 prize packs containing a Pokémon toy and T-shirt will be distributed to entrants.
Finally, the network’s traveling Dubba Dubba Bus, a cross-promotion with Tiger Electronics, will once again traverse the country, visiting affiliate locations and introducing a new Detention toy line. In a concurrent watch-and-win contest, kids can win an opportunity to have the bus visit their home.
This fall’s on-air promos will again feature WB’s backlot theme, but now each show is given its own CGI ‘set.’ Interstitials will be peopled for the first time by live-action kid hosts called Dubba Dubba kids. ‘This will bring to life the worlds of all of our cartoons, including the new shows,’ Goldstein says.