Cartoonito, WarnerMedia’s home entertainment brand for young children, has debuted in the Asian market as a dedicated morning programming block on Cartoon Network. Cartoonito first arrived on Japanese TV on 1 March, and launched in Southeast Asia and Korea today. A launch event is scheduled in Singapore on 1 April.
Tentpole shows in Southeast Asia and Korea include Lucas the Spider, Esme & Roy and Dino Ranch. In addition to these is a growing slate of new and library series in a line-up that celebrates individuality and champions creativity and compassion – part of Cartoonito’s educational and humancentric learning approach. The programming block is curated and designed to appeal to a larger demographic of kids, as young as 2.
“While Cartoon Network typically appeals to kids of about 5 and up. Cartoonito encourages a co-viewing experience so the block will also be popular with parents and caregivers,” WarnerMedia's spokesperson told MARKETING-INTERACTIVE.
Cartoonito shows will also sit in a dedicated Cartoonito programming rail on HBO GO, the region’s streaming service that is now available in Southeast Asia, Taiwan and Hong Kong. The brand is also looking to launch in Australia and New Zealand in early July, and South Asia later this year.
All Cartoonito shows follow a curriculum designed by early childhood education expert Dr. Laura Brown that centre on four core values: creativity, caring, curiosity and courage. With aims of inspiring more children to use their imagination and learn from their mistakes, the platform hopes to teach its young audience the value of empathy and respect.
"Our aim is to elevate awareness of key family values: love, care and concern, commitment and respect via musical sing-alongs featuring characters from our Cartoonito shows. These videos will be distributed not just on our own channels but also via Ministry of Social and Family Development's (MSF) own outreach in the community, helping Cartoonito gain more traction," the spokesperson said.
Careful curation of what programs to air are key to Cartoonito’s strategy. Head of kids for WarnerMedia APAC Leslie Lee said it is “how the block is carefully curated and programmed” that makes the platform stand out. Additionally, Lee draws upon the importance of creating a safe environment for younger viewers, and given the brand’s widening demographics, for a need to become more inclusive to both boys and girls, amidst other campaigns for diversity.
For the brand, it is vitally important that the partners it works with on its kids’ channels match a strict criteria that allows to build trust with audiences and maintain a completely safe environment. "They have to be like-minded with age-appropriate products and messages that are in sync with our brand promise," the spokesperson said.
Cartoonito’s growth will rely on reduced ad-loads compared to that outside of the block, hence why it will seek partnerships with more educational or family-centric brands, leveraging on mutual strength to connect with families more meaningfully. For example, the brand is working together with Singapore’s MSF on a campaign entitled “Families for Life” that will begin in about a month’s time.
The company's marketing plans include building a presence on Cartoonito’s website, YouTube and social media. In mid-April, Cartoonito will be revealing an AR filter featuring one of the brand’s animated hosts.
For offline marketing, Cartoonito will be organising a “Cartoonito Play Date” held at Wildlings Forest school in Dempsey Hill, Singapore in April. There will be an opportunity for parents to bring their little ones to experience the brand’s unique humancentric learning curriculum and the four core values first-hand.
The COVID-19 pandemic has pushed many consumers to turn to streaming platforms. On this front, WarnerMedia is looking to launch HBO Max in Asia soon. Last September, the company unveiled its regional hub for Asia (excluding China and Japan) in Singapore. The hub will fully integrate WarnerMedia’s business in the region, including Warner Bros., HBO and Turner brands.
HBO Max will also be housed under the new hub, which allows WarnerMedia to work with local professionals and companies to produce original content, and opens up the region to the rest of the world. The hub also consolidates six different WarnerMedia offices across Singapore and two from Hong Kong. Additionally, HBO Max also brought on board Jason Monteiro as its GM for Southeast Asia, Hong Kong and Taiwan in January. He succeeds Amit Malhotra who was previously MD for HBO Max in Southeast Asia and India.
HBO Max rolled out last May in the US and has since been unveiled in 39 territories across Latin America and the Caribbean on 29 June. The platform launched in Europe last October and was expected to be available in about 61 markets globally by the end of 2021.
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