Playhouse Disney US will be the second market to twist, turn, dance and learn with DoodleBops, a 26 x half-hour series from Montreal, Canada’s Cookie Jar Entertainment. The live-action preschool show, which centers around a rock band practicing for an upcoming tour, debuted on Canadian public broadcaster the CBC in February, and Playhouse Disney has set a launch date of April 11.
Kelly Elwood, the company’s senior VP of marketing, says her strategy to build up the DoodleBops brand in the U.S. will mirror Canada’s one-year rollout plan. The first order of business will be to introduce preschoolers to the music before the series hits the airwaves.
In Canada, the show’s three stars gave an audiovisual performance at a CBC-sponsored national event in November called Shimmy Shack Party, which was topped off with a live performance in Toronto. Kids who came out to the CBC event picked up a three-song sampler CD of DoodleBops’ tunes, and those who couldn’t attend got a taste of the show from three music videos that went to air a few weeks before the program debuted.
In the weeks leading up to the Playhouse Disney launch, Elwood reckons Cookie Jar will lean on the U.S. distribution reach of its educational products arm, High Reach Learning, to send out a new four-song sampler CD to preschools in the States.
There’s also talk of organizing a launch event similar to Shimmy Shack, but no details had been confirmed at press time. Meanwhile, the music videos will soon debut on Playhouse Disney, and a website featuring games and fun-fact character bios is in the works to roll out on-line in tandem with the series’ TV debut. And just as Universal Music Canada has signed on to release a full-length DoodleBops album in Canada this summer, Elwood says Cookie Jar is actively negotiating with labels in the U.S.
The Canadian and U.S. marketing plans will merge in early summer with the kick-off of a planned live tour throughout North America. ‘The ultimate goal will be for the DoodleBops to explode into selective rock concert venues in November, which is a key family entertainment time period,’ Elwood says.
Elwood figures the overall strategy to create a ‘grassroots marketing swell’ has been stepped by about six months thanks to the Playhouse Disney sale, so Cookie Jar has moved the show’s international market debut forward from MIPCOM to MIPTV, and merch will now start rolling out in North America early next year.