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Cartoon Sends Message

6/23/2006 8:00 PM Eastern

For the first time in its history, the Cartoon Network is presenting an all-original programming lineup from 7 p.m. to 10:30 p.m. To promote that fact, the animated basic-cable network has launched its most ambitious, multimedia campaign to date, starring the characters from those exclusive shows.

Abstract billboards, which don’t explicitly tout the service, have popped up in the top 25 markets. The ads, with messages like “I pooted”, might not mean anything to the viewer, unless he or she is part of the network’s core audience. But consumers traveling further down the road might see the “reveal” billboard, which identifies the character that utters the phrase, and the Cartoon Network name.

“They’re supposed to be attention-getting,” said Dennis Admovich, Cartoon senior vice president of marketing. The lines are quotable and familiar to Cartoon’s audience, he said, like fans of Seinfeld repeat quips such as “I am the master of my own domain.”

“If you don’t know what they mean, it makes you want to know the line,” he added.

Billboards are a “pretty mainstream” way of getting the attention of the core audience, so Cartoon’s message is reinforced everywhere kids will go this summer. Cartoon also bought advertising on Kids WB, in syndicated telecasts of The Simpsons and on Nickelodeon. Those spots are airing in the top 50 markets and on Dish Network.

The ads tout new episodes available this summer of the network’s top shows: Foster’s Home for Imaginary Friends (the show’s Mac and Bloo will be utilized as primetime hosts all summer), Camp Lazlo, Ben10, My Gym Partner’s a Monkey, Codename: Kids Next Door, and Ed, Edd n Eddy. The spots direct viewers to tune in beginning at 7 p.m.

To catch kids at the malls, Cartoon will place promotional kiosks in up to five shopping centers in each of the top-25 markets.

The network is also offering viewers a chance to be a “Cartoon Network kid.” Film crews will visit amusement parks, summer camps and key markets, including Los Angeles, Chicago and Atlanta.

“We’re having a lot of fun with it,” Admovich said. Kids have been taped putting their whole fist in their mouths, or walking on their hands while tucking their feet behind their heads. Some of the more entertaining clips will be shown on the network.

Cartoon is also expanding its Friday lineup, its first all-original night, into a destination for up-and-coming bands. The “live” acts bring a touch of relevant pop culture to the programming mix, Admovich said, and research shows the network’s core audience wants music from acts relevant in their peer group.

Acts set to perform on the network this summer are R&B singer Ne-Yo, Cheyenne Kimball, Sammie, Bowling for Soup and Da Backwudz.

September