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Subject: "Who's Bugs Bunny, dad?"

Written By: woops on 08/28/07 at 1:40 pm

"Who's Bugs Bunny, dad?

George Feltenstein, head of classic DVD releases for Warner Home Video, fought to get permission to release Looney Tunes and Popeye cartoons through his department instead of the "family entertainment" (i.e. kids' entertainment) division. He told Maclean's that this approach maximizes the audience for these sets, in a way that couldn't happen with traditional, kids-only marketing: "There is a viable market out there for just plain cartoons, which young parents buy for their children. So we market these great films two different ways."

But even if the adults-first approach didn't work, companies like Warner Brothers and Universal would have little choice but to try it: there's no more kids' market for old cartoons. For decades, these companies had a kid-oriented marketing strategy that benefited from TV stations' need for affordable children's programming. Jerry Beck, an animation historian and consultant on these DVD sets, says that the cartoons were on TV for decades mostly because the broadcast rights were so cheap: "The only reason we grew up with the classic cartoon characters is that TV programmers were too lazy to start a campaign to create new cartoons." When TV companies realized that they could make more money from new cartoons, it was the end of the classics on TV: "It's more lucrative," Beck says, "to create something that might become SpongeBob Squarepants or Rugrats than to revive Mighty Mouse or Sidney the Elephant or something like that."

But the disappearance of TV reruns as a market for old cartoons meant that a company like Warner Brothers -- which makes an estimated $4 billion a year from Looney Tunes merchandise -- had no way of keeping the brand going with a new generation of children, particularly after the WB-owned Cartoon Network dumped old cartoons from its schedule. Four years ago, Warner Brothers attempted to counter the TV bust with a "reinvigoration" of its cartoon franchises, inviting more than 500 marketing and licensing executives to a presentation and telling Joyceann Cooney, editor-in-chief of License! magazine, that it would re-popularize Bugs and Daffy with "new theatrical shorts, a feature film, and a new animated series." But the feature film (Looney Tunes: Back in Action) and animated series (Baby Looney Tunes) flopped, and the new shorts were so bad they weren't released to theatres.

And so, having finally realized that the kiddie market can't be revived, corporate executives are identifying new target audiences. While home video departments market to adults who grew up with classic cartoons, the marketing and licensing departments have taken a different tack: going after people who may never have seen their cartoons at all. Karen McTier, Warner Brothers' executive vice-president for domestic licensing and worldwide marketing, told Maclean's that being constantly on TV isn't as important as it used to be, because today, character brands are sold by "identifying and capitalizing on new lifestyle trends to reach consumers."

What this means is that cartoon characters are being marketed separately from their actual films and characterizations. Take Tweety, the little yellow bird character. Though the original Tweety and Sylvester cartoons are loud and violent, the character looks kind of cute when removed from the films and placed on a T-shirt. Tweety is now the most popular Warner Brothers character in licensing, because, McTier says, girls love him: "Tweety is our No. 1 character brand and true Looney Tunes breakout star with females of all ages." It doesn't matter that Tweety, like most classic cartoon characters, is a male; Warner Brothers's marketing campaigns never mention Tweety's actual gender, and so the company has managed to take him out of context and turn him into a distaff marketing phenomenon: "Our fashion platform for Tweety has created a huge buzz in the apparel and accessories categories," McTier explains.

So in the absence of the TV market, there are two outlets for cartoon characters: lifestyle marketing like Tweety dresses and purses, and "classic" DVD sets aimed at hard-core collectors. The problem companies face, though, is that these two markets aren't always compatible. To protect the marketing viability of the characters, Warner Brothers has put some restrictions on what can be said or shown on the Looney Tunes Golden Collections, even to the point of including a widely reviled disclaimer from Whoopi Goldberg (apologizing for any racially insensitive content) on one of the sets. And meanwhile, the licensing department has to scramble to hide the fact that these products are based on old cartoons; their licensing campaigns might be hurt if too many people watch the DVDs and discover that Tweety is a guy, or that he hasn't made a major cartoon since 1964.

But overall, both home video and licensing executives seem confident they can still make plenty of money from these characters. And as Feltenstein points out, Popeye and Woody Woodpecker were never really intended for the children's market anyway: they were made for movie theatres and enjoyed "decades of theatrical success" before they were turned into kids' TV entertainment.

Ironically, the new way to market these characters is just the way they were marketed in the first place.

True about the last sentance since they were originally aimed towards adults and were shown between newsreels and movies like "Casablanca" & "Gone With The Wind".

Atleast Disney have cheaper classic cartoon DVDs aimed towards kids and sets for the adults/collectors.

Though like Bugs & Daffy, classic Mickey & Donald cartoons aren't even shown on tv anymore.
And I don't mean the CGI baby show with the mouse and that cartoon with cheesy superhero versions of the wascally wabbit and duck. %)

Not to mention that most were edited and even banned when they were shown on tv in the past for political correct reasons.

As for networks, they're more into what's considered "hip" and making money out of it...

Should kids watch them, why not since most have grew up watching Looney Tunes and others on tv in the mid/late 20th century.

As for being "Un PC", it's up to the parents. Though I wouldn't show them certain WWII cartoons or other banned toons like "All This & Rabbit Stew" until they're older (like 12) and understand the historical context of the film.

Not to mention that Bugs, Daffy, Droopy, Donald, etc. are far better animated & much funnier than the cartoons (especially 'Family Guy'...though some early episodes are good) from the past decade.

Subject: Re: "Who's Bugs Bunny, dad?"

Written By: mach!ne_he@d on 08/28/07 at 2:06 pm

It's really sad that most kids today never get to see these great classic cartoons. With the Bugs Bunny and Tweety Show on Saturday mornings, and constant re-runs on Nickelodeon, and later, Cartoon Network, I grew up watching these great shows, despite the fact that most came out 30 to 40 years before I was born.

Sadly, it's been 5 or 6 years since they aired on television regularly, so a large portion of today's kids may have never seen them at all.

Subject: Re: "Who's Bugs Bunny, dad?"

Written By: MaxwellSmart on 08/28/07 at 9:26 pm

I never cared for Bugs.  I'm more of Daffy man.

Subject: Re: "Who's Bugs Bunny, dad?"

Written By: Jeffpcmt on 08/29/07 at 11:34 am

Thankfully they came out with the DVD box set series for Looney Tunes.  Thats some of the best money Ive spent.

Subject: Re: "Who's Bugs Bunny, dad?"

Written By: Marian on 08/29/07 at 12:34 pm

Thankfully they came out with the DVD box set series for Looney Tunes.  Thats some of the best money Ive spent.
and you can share them with the kids.My parents gave my cousin,born in 1989,30s and 40s(I think )cartoon videos like heckle and jeckle,and he thought they were hilarious when he was a kid.

Subject: Re: "Who's Bugs Bunny, dad?"

Written By: Foo Bar on 08/29/07 at 9:07 pm

Thankfully they came out with the DVD box set series for Looney Tunes.  Thats some of the best money Ive spent.

"But the feature film (Looney Tunes: Back in Action) and animated series (Baby Looney Tunes) flopped, and the new shorts were so bad they weren't released to theatres."

That's because you can't air the things today that made the original Looney Tunes funny: gratuitous slapstick violence that's so out of proportion that not even the densest kid could ever confuse it for reality.

Anyone who doesn't own the DVDs, seriously needs to get them.  If you grew up in the 70s and lived to see the bowdlerization of even the original Looney Tunes, you'll remember every censored scene... including some censored scenes that you might have forgotten.

Subject: Re: "Who's Bugs Bunny, dad?"

Written By: woops on 08/29/07 at 9:15 pm

The fifth volume will be released in about two months  8)

TCM airs some Looney Tunes on "Cartoon Alley", though only a few shorts  and the show airs once a week...
same for MGM

Though the Tom & Jerry DVDs are bad from what I've read at the Golden Age of Cartoons board, where I tend to read info

Subject: Re: "Who's Bugs Bunny, dad?"

Written By: MaxwellSmart on 08/31/07 at 10:28 pm

In re this thread's title, I'm still trying to come up with a dirty success yet.

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