Marketing

Toggle

Article

in Singapore by

Case study: How Cartoon Network invigorated the long-running animated series Ben 10

Few TV series have succeeded in capturing viewers’ attention and interest for numerous seasons. One of the reasons is because fans lose interest in the storyline. Younger fans who have grown up watching an animated TV series, in particular, often outgrow them and move on. The team at Turner Broadcasting, owner of Cartoon Network, had its own concerns when it was launching the new season of Ben 10.

Having undergone a refresh in 2016, Turner Broadcasting wanted to ensure the latest season would appeal to the younger generation, as well as regenerate interest among existing fans.

This led it to unveil the “Rise of Vilgax” campaign, which enabled Turner Broadcasting to win gold – Best Programme Promotion; bronze – Best Media Solution – Integrated Media; and bronze – Best Media Solution – Social Media Campaign at The Spark Awards 2018.

This post was done in conjunction with Turner.

Problem

How do you relaunch an old and established, but popular brand that is showing signs of fatigue? Especially to a target audience that is notoriously hard to reach, that is, kids aged nine to 14? Not only are they incredibly busy with school, extra classes and sports, their access is also heavily guarded by protective parents.

The Cartoon Network team was faced with this dilemma when tasked to launch the new season of Ben 10 – a long-running animated TV series which has been on air for 13 years. The series was recently refreshed in 2016, and alongside the new season launches, the team was tasked to reinvigorate existing multigenerational fans around the franchise, as well as find ways to introduce Ben 10 to a new and younger audience.

Objective

Children these days are overloaded with entertainment choices – from games, apps and television to YouTube and Facebook, among others. As such, a traditional two-dimensional marketing campaign was not going to move the needle.

Based on Cartoon Network’s “New Generations Research” results, it was found that children wanted experiences that went beyond just passive viewing. They wanted to be more involved, play more, create more and own their own journey with the content. With this in mind, the team conceptualised a movement using a multi-faceted omni-platform experience that was able to bring the story of Ben 10 to life.

The “Rise of Vilgax” campaign was born and from there the team’s key objective was to build brand awareness, raise overall viewership of the Cartoon Network channel in the key markets of Singapore, Malaysia and the Philippines, and improve Cartoon Network Asia’s web traffic, digital and social performance.

Solution

Rise of Vilgax offered a layered multi-platform storyline that ran across the Cartoon Network’s linear channel, website, Facebook and YouTube page. At the heart of the execution, the campaign created an experience that children would want to follow day by day in real-time. They were in it together with Ben 10 and had the ability to control an outcome and play the role of a hero to  “save the world”, giving them the opportunity to become emotionally invested in Ben’s journey.

Execution

The campaign was built to satisfy two content needs – to give children something to explore and to express themselves. Together, Cartoon Network’s omni-channel marketing team, in-house creative, digital and social media experts executed the campaign over 12 days from 10 to 24 February 2018.

Tapping into Cartoon Network’s huge social fan base of 3.3 million on the Asia Facebook page, Cartoon Network issued a call for help via a Facebook Live broadcast, asking fans to help Ben as he prepared to take on Vilgax in a final showdown.

To do this, Ben had to first “omni-enhance” his aliens, making them bigger, faster and stronger for battle. Over 10 days, children were asked to participate in daily challenges, each of which was themed by a selected alien.

The challenge required participants to work together to rely on their wit, creativity or speed to complete. Once completed, the new omni-enhanced alien was released. To further give children the ability to control the campaign outcome, they were also able to vote for the alien that they wanted to see help Ben in his final battle.

The top three aliens from the poll were eventually picked and featured in a stop motion animation battle launched exclusively on Facebook canvas. This led the storyline back into the launch of a new season of Ben 10 on Cartoon Network on linear platforms reaching over 7.4 million households.

Alongside this campaign, in order to encourage further engagement, the Ben 10 chatbot was launched, answering all questions about Ben 10, his aliens and his fight with Vilgax.

Results

The Rise of Vilgax campaign was successful in reinvigorating and relaunching interest in a long-running franchise on Cartoon Network both in the existing fan base that grew up watching him and in a new generation of audiences. Most importantly, it also showcased the strength and effectiveness of using authentic storytelling to speak to fans.

Following the campaign, the Cartoon Network TV Channel saw a spike in ratings and viewership in Singapore, Malaysia and the Philippines and key digital objectives were also met with tremendous engagement across multiple digital platforms.

Digital – Cartoon Network’s website:

  • Page views increased by more than 83%.
  • Visitors increased by more than 27%.
  • Unique visitors increased by more than 25%.
  • Dedicated Ben 10 show page views, visitors and unique visitors increased by over 94%.

Social

  • Nine million-plus total impressions.
  • Six million-plus total reach.
  • 416,000 plus total engagement.

YouTube:

  • More than 160,000 total views.
  • More than 15,000 new subscribers.

The success of Ben 10 continues to grow in Singapore, Malaysia and the Philippines with Ben 10’s touch-points increasing from 10 million in Q1 2018 to 13 million Q2 2018. This increased interest from partners, distributors and, most importantly fans, continuing to prove it is a strong Cartoon Network brand that is able to stay relatable and exciting to new and young audiences.