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How Cartoon Network reinvigorated the Ben 10 franchise

How Cartoon Network reinvigorated the Ben 10 franchise

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It says a lot when a TV programme is well-established and well-loved by the target audience. However, it is difficult to keep audiences’ eyes peeled on the television for the TV programme every time. It is even more difficult when your audience is children aged nine to 14, who have many commitments in their young lives, and protection from parents.

With the aim of reinvigorating existing young fans around the Ben 10 franchise and introducing it to a new and younger audience that is hard to reach and very busy with school, homework, tuition classes, sports and other extra-curricular activities, the “Rise of Vilgax” campaign was created.

This campaign won a total of three awards at the recent Spark Awards for Media Excellence 2018, bagging gold in Best Programme Promotion, and two bronze in Best Media Solution – Social Media and Best Media Solution – Integrated Media.

Marketing recently sat down with Vishal Dembla, vice-president and general manager of Turner, Southeast Asia and Hong Kong, to uncover the secrets of the award-winning campaign.

This post was done in conjunction with Marketing.

Marketing: Can you share a little bit about the Rise of Vilgax campaign and the insights that you got out of the campaign?

Rise of Vilgax was a campaign designed to build awareness and drive engagement about Cartoon Network’s original series Ben 10. It went beyond traditional engagement tactics and found a way to get the target audience emotionally invested, letting them believe their actions could make a difference – to play more, do more and be more – just like their hero Ben 10.

Following a call for help from Cartoon Network, viewers were tasked with a different challenge over 10 days. Each daily challenge was themed by a different Ben 10 alien, and fans had to work together to complete the challenge before the aliens could be “omni-enhanced” to help Ben in his final battle.

The campaign gave us an insight into how loyal Cartoon Network fans could be, and how willing they were to consume our content when engaged. Run over 12 days, we saw very positive results, successfully helping to not only build brand affinity for Ben 10, but also uplift ratings, engagement on Facebook and subscriber numbers on You Tube.

Marketing: What were some of the challenges faced in the execution and production of the campaign and how were they overcome?

Knowing that Ben 10 is a franchise that appeals to a multi-generational audience, our biggest challenge was to build a campaign that spoke to the varying age groups of fans – from children to teens and young adults who grew up watching the series.

Our solution was to build a storyline that flowed through a mix of platforms, each of which was able to target a different group of audience and age groups. We saw that this strategy worked in our favour and were pleased to find that our loyal fans were not only consuming our content through one platform, but were following the storyline across platforms as well.

Marketing: What is the most important key when trying to keep a specific group of consumers, and in this case children of a certain age group, engaged to reach the objectives of increasing viewership?

With so many options of content available, wherever and whenever, consumers are spoilt for choice and brands need to find a way to cut through the noise.

In promoting ourselves, Cartoon Network endeavours to engage with our consumers differently. We don’t build our campaign objectives around just driving viewership.

Rather, we look at creating authentic experiences to build fans –  a group of people who don’t just like to engage with our brands, but will become our advocates as well.

Rise of Vilgax is the perfect example of how the team was able to go beyond a one-way marketing message and build a two-way storyline that encouraged engagement, action, accountability and emotional investment. It is through authentic experiences like this, that we are able to build true fandom.

Marketing: What do you think is the future of audience engagement in the TV industry, especially in the age of intense competition with the likes of subscription-based entertainment providers such as Netflix?

Cartoon Network may have started as a linear offering, but it is now a brand that has grown beyond a TV screen. From the award-winning Cartoon Network Amazone Waterpark in Thailand, a new upcoming themed cruise ship and an amusement and water park in Bali, to Cartoon Network cafés, pop-up stores, mobile games and licensed merchandise and products with a range of partners from Miniso, Baskin-Robbins and Spao – Cartoon Network has become more than just a TV channel. It’s become very much intertwined with the lifestyle of our fans.

As such, we no longer benchmark ourselves just against traditional indicators such as subscriber or viewership numbers only. Instead, we look at the total consumption of our brand and franchises.

This requires us to look across all available touch-points we have with our fans to get a clearer picture of our brand’s strength. In Asia Pacific, Ben 10 was able to generate over 491,000,000 touch-points in Q2 2018. This remarkable figures showcases the breadth and reach that Cartoon Network brands can offer beyond the screen to our partners and advertisers.

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