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Industry Report: Marketing

Marketing Models for Producers and TV Channels


- John Bullivant explains the main marketing dynamics and factors elements for an efficient marketing plan and campaign.

John Bullivant is a UK Children’s Media executive with over fifteen years of experience. Bullivant has been responsible for both the creative development and the financing of children’s content. In 2002 Bullivant founded Kickback Media ( of which he is Managing Director.

What is your assessment of the marketing business dynamic?

An increasing amount of money is being made from licensing and merchandising. For example the company HIT made 85% of its revenues from licensing, merchandising and home entertainment. This data will re-orientate the market. The A Point is Character and the Z Point is Retail. If you succeed in having the characters shown in the television for long time, they will become a franchise.

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Most of the financing in Europe is coming from the broadcasters. What is the TV viewer / consumer dichotomy?

The purpose of the television broadcaster is to attract the maximum possible audience to tell its advertisers: come and spend money with us. Therefore TV wants as many boys as girls. TV is looking for propositions that will be equally adapted for both sexes. It is what comedy and animation does.

In the retail spectrum there is not a line of product that is equally appealing to girls and boys, except educational products. The toys for boys are dark, aggressive, action-driven, competitive and full of testosterone. The girls’ toys are pink, sparkly, emotional and social oriented.

What is the purpose of marketing? Producers must think on marketing. Producers must promote their products in order to:
-Raise awareness of their product in buyers and commercial partners. Marketing is connected to sales: it is designed to improve your business;
-Provide reassurance and confidence in the product for buyers and commercial partners. Well marketed show starts to be noticed in a very early stage of production;
-Increase sales and profitability of the company and its products! When doing marketing the producer should think money and business not creativity!

When should you think about the possible brand?

In my opinion the moment you have an idea. The producer should really understand what the Unique Selling Proposition (USP) of the show is.

Who are you marketing too?

It is a straight forward question. Firstly you have to ask: what is your product? It is you? Your company? Your TV series? Your TV series website? A T-Shirts of your TV series? If it is a TV series, you are marketing to broadcasters and possibly to distributors and co-producers. Time and money gets directed in those directions, where those people watch it. You may advertise in a trade magazine, on an on line news site or just produce your flyers.

There is a Creative Marketing and a Lazy Marketing. In the last Mip TV Disney put a huge banner on the front of the Majestic Hotel, advertising the new pre-school show of Mickey Mouse. I do not know how much Disney spent for that banner, but probably around 500.000€. The question is: why? It is extremely easy to know the names of the twelve most important broadcasters in the world that would be interested in acquiring that show. Why Disney spent a huge amount of money to let the public know about the show, when there are only 12 persons who actually will have to buy the show? For me this is lazy marketing. It is typically a marketing done by big companies. The marketing department knew that for the last big show they spent x amount of money and that for this show they have to spend the same amount of money. It would have been much less expansive to invite the twelve decision makers for a week end in Los Angeles and have a face to face conversation to sell the show.

What is the best way to build a marketing plan?

You need to connect all your initiatives. An initiative can be a meeting with somebody. You have to build on what has gone before. You are constructing a compelling story - the commercial pedigree of the product.

Time your Press Releases with trade shows or meetings, with further Press Releases with advertising with deals.

Isolated marketing activities are easily forgotten - your aim is to have your product instantly recalled and recognised - one off stunt’s are unlikely to achieve this.

For me it is important to be realistic. Over hyping and under delivering is not advisable. Build on good solid, logical foundations.

What are the most important factors of a marketing campaign?

Producers should always be thinking about branding and marketing. In my opinion there are three key factors in a marketing campaign:

-Producers should define the brand DNA of the product. A strong definition will make it stronger, easier to pitch and hopefully easier to sell;
-It is important to support the product with targeted marketing to increase its chance of success; producers do not have the same resources than Disney to market a show. It is much more effective to market a show to the pertinent people rather than to market it widely
-It is extremely important to have an awareness of the difference between TV and Retail and between Viewers and Consumers. This understanding will help the producers to focus resources and inform creative and commercial strategies

Cartoon, the European Association of Animation Film
Cartoon Master Barcelona, Spain, June 2006

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