No other German TV station started off with such success at establishing a brand for kids as the public Der Kinderkanal, but after three years on air, the time was ripe for a facelift, a slight shift in programming strategy and a new name and design.
Outgoing Kinderkanal CEO Albert Schaefer felt the channel had outgrown its original visual identity for quite some time. While it suited the initial needs of gaining a new audience, especially when parents had to be convinced, the rather old-fashioned look and music (befitting a program that came from the archives of ARD and ZDF), and the slogan ‘no violence, no commercials, free for three-years-olds’ (‘Gewaltfrei, werbefrei, frei ab drei’) was designed for reassurance rather than edge.
The old design, says Schaefer, ‘stood for reliability, tradition and quality; now it has reached its limits because it embodies tradition more than innovation.’ The previous branding did not attract older children, who prefer channels such as Super RTL, Pro Sieben and RTL.
That’s why on May 1, Kinderkanal changed its name to KI.KA, which is already its usual abbreviation in newspapers, TV guides and the like. The new design combines the old logo of Kinderkanal (a double X) with a new circle, which represents a multitude of variations (earth, sun, moon, eye, wheel and so on). Schaefer hopes the harmonious design-’round, but with edges’-and warm and cheerful colors will still appeal to young children, but will also correspond with the aesthetic demands of older kids.
Also on May 1, a programming shift took place from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m., positioning KI.KA to attract a slightly older kid demo in the early afternoon. First there will be daily replays of the successful weekly soap Schloss Einstein, followed by the animated French series Tin Tin, a comical double feature (the sitcom Dr. Frankenstein and Auweia!, a show with hidden cameras), and the Australian fantasy series Spellbinder. The hope is to take the core six to eight audience up to 10 in this block. The programming skews progressively older in the afternoon until 5:40 p.m., when other stations air their daily soaps and Kinderkanal airs animation for young children.
The pubcaster has acquired, produced or commissioned several live-action programs to add to its new live-action afternoon block. KI.KA acquisition and co-pro head, Sebastian Debertin says the second season of Student Bodies (Sony Wonder/Sunbow) is slotted for the new block, and KI.KA acquired seasons two and three of ITEL’s Worst Witch. The Tribe is another series under consideration. Also slated for the live-action block is a new season of Castle Einstein (Schloss Einstein), the first weekly soap produced for kids in Germany. Following its success, ARD’S affiliated station SWR created a new weekly series of 52 half hours with the title Fabrixx.
Debertin unveiled Soccer Fever (Fußballfieber) at MIP TV-Germany’s first docu-soap for kids. The 13 half hours produced by Munich’s Caligari Film (a company experienced in the docu-soap genre) will be presented under a new ‘docu-motion’ banner. Docu-motion will launch at the start of the European Soccer Championship in June as part of an effort to attract more boys to KI.KA.
Having established the makeover, Schaefer will leave the kidnet at the end of June, looking for new challenges with Berlin-based Studio-TV-Film, renowned for shows for tots such as Löwenzahn and Siebenstein which both aired on ZDF. As the new CEO, Schaefer wants to produce documentaries and maybe feature films.
Commenting on the brandmorph at KI.KA, Schaefer says: ‘The new design is a step into the universe of fantasy,’ and adds, ‘It took us a year to develop; when we decided to start with the new design in spring, I did not know that I would leave two months later.’
Asked about the impact of his tenure and the fact that some years from now people in Erfurt will remember him as the man who brought the Teletubbies to Germany, he replies, ‘I could live with that.’
KI.KA (18% market share from 6 a.m. to 7 p.m.) is the number two channel for kids in Germany behind Super RTL (22%).