Dee Forbes, the sales director of Turner Broadcasting System
Europe, likes to scare her colleagues with the giant Scooby Doo that
guards her room. ’It’s triggered by an infra-red sensor and it yells
’Get outa here you pesky kids’,’Forbes says in her best Scooby Doo
Turner Broadcasting is one of the UK’s top cartoon providers with its
Cartoon Network which averages 7.4 million viewers per month. Now it
plans to keep even more children quiet with its new channel,
Boomerang will use Turner’s enormous back catalogue of cartoons: the old
Hanna-Barbera classics such as Scooby Doo, Wacky Races, The Hair Bear
Bunch and Yogi Bear.
’They’re the old favourites, the stuff we grew up on, so the channel
will appeal to families who saw it the first time around as well as to
younger children,’ Forbes says.
’We have one of the biggest libraries of cartoons in the world but we
had no room to show them, which is why we have created this new
While Boomerang will concentrate on the classics, Cartoon Network will
continue to showcase new animation. It has invested dollars 450 million
in this area and has succeeded in producing hugely popular shows such as
Cow and Chicken and Johnny Bravo.
However, just as Turner creates a new channel, another is being
TNT - which last year shifted from having a movie focus to becoming a
general entertainment channel - is to disappear from the airwaves on 30
The addition of basketball, wrestling, drama and music to TNT was a way
of differentiating it from Turner Classic Movies, which launched at the
end of last year.
However, while TCM is proving a hit across Europe, TNT has
’The general entertainment market is hugely competitive and set to
become more so with the onset of digital. We have decided to concentrate
on our areas of core strength - news, with CNN, animation and movies,’
But TNT is such a strong brand name. Why get rid of it? Why not simply
return to its focus on film?
Forbes replies: ’It is a strong brand name but can you tell me what it
stands for?’ I hesitate. ’Turner Network TV,’ she interjects. ’Turner
Classic Movies is a clearer and stronger name.’
The channel is proving popular across Europe and is taking advertising
for the first time.
But when it comes to advertising opportunities for Cartoon Network,
Forbes prides herself on taking a more unusual approach. Although she
had no hard sales experience before joining the company five years ago -
she was previously international media executive at Young & Rubicam
Media in Europe and then account executive for Media Audits - she says
her mission is to do a different kind of sell, a ’circular sell’.
’We believe in working with the client and understanding their needs. We
don’t just say ’we think you should sponsor Scooby’, we offer all our
assets - TV, website, comics and videos. Our aim is to be at every touch
point in children’s lives,’ Forbes says.
This approach has proved ideal for FMCG brands that find it hard to
build relationships with children. Forbes explains: ’Children aren’t
going to seek out a corporate website, they aren’t kid-friendly.
’Our approach is to link the brand to a property on TV, involve the
website, introduce a game and, at the end of it all, the child goes away
with a warmer feeling towards the brand.’
Chris Locke, the joint managing director of MediaVest, praises Forbes’s
creativity. He says: ’If you go to her and ask for x, y or z, she’ll
say, what about a,b and c too?’
Forbes is also known for her enthusiasm for having a good time. She is
fond of a joke and, like many a good Irish woman, likes nothing more
than sipping a pint of the black stuff while watching Ireland play
rugby. Forbes got into the game aged 12 after the rugby ace Jean-Pierre
Rives wiped his bloody face on her green jersey.
’I was only 12 and it was a major thrill,’ she laughs.
Now, of course, she is more into strategy than beefy thighs - well,
that’s what she claims.