CLOSE-UP: LIVE ISSUE/KELLOGG - Agencies aren't worried by Kellogg's deal with Cartoon Network

The line between TV content and TV commercials was further blurred last week with the news that Kellogg would be bypassing its creative agencies, J. Walter Thompson and Leo Burnett, to produce a multimedia summer campaign in association with Cartoon Network.

The initiative will see established brand icons such as Tony the Tiger and Snap, Crackle and Pop disappear for three months to be replaced on packs and in TV commercials by Cartoon Network characters such as Johnny Bravo and the Power Puff Girls.

The move appears to recognise that hip, credible cartoons such as these could have greater power in drawing youngsters to Kellogg than the wholesome brand mascots that the company has built up over generations. JWT, which has handled Kellogg's business since 1938, and Burnett, which has held a place on the roster since 1950, insist they're not disgruntled at missing out on involvement in the project and feel no threat to their accounts. However, the future for some animated characters could be less bright. Tony the Tiger was absent from Burnett's first UK work for Frosties after it took over the account from JWT two years ago.

"I can categorically say we are not dropping either our main characters or our creative agencies, David Walker, the Kellogg UK marketing operations and media controller, says. "We have at least nine different campaigns going on through our agencies this year. This is just one project that we have been in talks about for some time."

The campaign is not the first occasion on which Cartoon Network has despatched its characters, to which it owns all rights, to the commercial arena.

The Power Puff Girls were signed by Persil last year for a "fighting grime promotion.

"It's not our remit to take the place of creative agencies, Dee Forbes, the senior vice-president of advertising sales for Europe, the Middle East and Africa at Turner Entertainment, insists. "This is promotional work and we have worked hard for both sides on contemporising the characters and are trying to relate to what is going on in kids' summer holidays. The innovative approach and multi-media solution each break new ground and provide a definite pointer to the way forward for licensing deals in the future."

The set-up at Cartoon Network, though, shows the increasing sophistication of such licensing deals. The broadcaster has its own in-house creative department, which has developed the TV ads for Kellogg, and works closely with Logistix Kids Worldwide, a marketing agency specialising in children, to develop commercial opportunities for its characters.

The Kellogg initiative, brokered by MindShare's sponsorship agency, BroadMind, will extend to the entire Kellogg's cereal range and will also involve every Kellogg brand sponsoring a specific Cartoon Network show. Two ads for Frosties and two for Snap, Crackle and Pop will also run across terrestrial commercial TV, Viacom channels and Sky.

"This is a multi-levelled, more than one-dimensional deal, BroadMind's managing director, Nick Walford, says. "It is a bigger deal for which we have worked very closely with MindShare and Logistix Kids to come up with an appropriate solution."

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