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New Netflix toon aims to make mindfulness matter

Saban Brands' CEO says Luna Petunia, its new preschool co-pro with Cirque du Soleil, goes beyond the shine to teach kids that all will be just fine. And helping to deliver the message are a second-season in the works and full licensing program on tap.
December 12, 2016

Stop. Breathe. And believe. That’s the mantra of Netflix’s newest preschool series, Luna Petunia, which made its way into 190 countries on December 9. A collaboration with Cirque du Soleil and Saban Brands, the 11 x 22-minute show is the latest in a string of original toons that have bowed on the SVOD in 2016. But beyond Luna‘s shimmer, talking volcanoes and flying pizzas, resides an emotional curriculum centered on self-regulation.

“We know it’s going to connect with preschoolers in an amazing way, so we’ve already started looking ahead,” says Saban Brands CEO Janet Hsu, of Luna Petunia’s second-season in the works.

Luna Petunia follows a young girl who has been given a necklace from her aunt that transports her into the land of Amazia. Beyond eye candy, contends Hsu, there is a strong intended focus on mindfulness.

Luna Petunia’s production and creative teams worked with mindfulness experts and referenced curricula for kids,” says Hsu. “It basically shows the mindfulness techniques to use and to find solutions in challenges. We really looked at the whimsical nature of Cirque du Soleil’s shows and the brand’s actual core values and what they represent, and mindfulness is at their forefront. Not only are the live shows really incredible-looking visual spectacles, but the performers are truly present in the moment to make the impossible possible.”

Even though mindfulness can be interpreted in different ways, what the series is really trying to focus on is helping kids come up with solutions to their problems.

“When kids are faced with challenges, we are teaching them to take a moment and believe that they’re going to find an answer. I think it’s a different type of lesson than just the pure academic route,” says Hsu.

The series marks the first television production for Cirque du Soleil Media, which was a big driver of the mindfulness aspect, says Hsu, due to the way in which problem-solving tactics are incorporated into its live circus acts.

Unfortunately, kids today regularly encounter obstacles and stress. According to a recent Nickelodeon study entitled Story of Me 2, children worry most about school and getting good grades, as well as their parent’s safety, parents losing their jobs and the family’s financial situation. Additional concerns are self-focused around cyber popularity, appearance and bullying. School safety is also a rising cause for anxiety and is a reflection of kids’ awareness of security issues in the world.

The same Nickelodeon study also showed that this generation of kids are more empathetic and thoughtful than ever before. And helping to maintain the positivity are a whole range of websites (including Mindful families and Mindfulness for Children), books (including Take the Time by Maud Roegiers, Visiting Feelings by Lauren Rubenstein and Mindful Monkey, Happy Panda by Lauren Alderfer) and YouTube videos focusing on being considerate.

And now its Netflix’s turn. Hsu turned to the SVOD giant hoping that even though Luna Petunia is aimed at preschoolers, it will have an impact on a wider audience.

“Netflix’s ability to reach many age groups and on a global scale are important to us,” says Hsu. “We think that the show, because of its beauty and mindfulness messages, will have range.”

Luna Petunia has already found a master toy partner, Funrise Toy Corporation, which will produce a line of preschool toys including dolls, accessories, play sets, bubble machines and dress up. A line of sleepwear and room accessories is also in the works. The goods will be released in North America in 2017 before going global.

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