MEDIA: HEADLINER: Forbes replaces the hard sell with cute cartoon characters - Dee Forbes thinks cartoons can help advertisers speak to children

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 voice.

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

voice.



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.



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

channel.’



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

axed.



TNT - which last year shifted from having a movie focus to becoming a

general entertainment channel - is to disappear from the airwaves on 30

June.



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

struggled.



’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,’

Forbes says.



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.



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