INTERVIEW: Alan Fenwick, VP Cartoon Network Europe EMEA

Samantha Loveday

By Samantha Loveday

November 1st 2007 at 3:08PM
INTERVIEW: Alan Fenwick, VP Cartoon Network Europe EMEA

Cartoon Network Europe is in the midst of a very busy year. And the cause of this busy-ness can be laid firmly at the feet of a ten year-old boy.

While CNE has a number of properties which are performing well, Ben 10 has made a lot of people very excited. Alan Fenwick, VP of Cartoon Network Europe EMEA, included.

“Ben 10 is a unique property happily combining action, humour, aliens and transmorphing powers, all seen from the perspective of a ten year-old boy which is appealing to boys and girls of all ages,” Fenwick explains to Licensing.biz. “The distinct storyline and creative mean we have been able to develop a very strong licensing programme right across the region.

“From a UK perspective, Graham Saltmarsh (licensing director) and the Network team were able to harness the power of Cartoon Network across programming, marketing, creative, media innovations and licensing to deliver a fully integrated campaign, which also involved retailers and Bandai, our master toy partner, and other key licensees.”

Interestingly, the successful toy launch back in February helped secure full retail listings and enabled the team to sign up over 20 new licensees, all without any terrestrial TV support. Something which would have been virtually unheard of for a satellite-only property a short time ago.

“Since then GMTV has secured Ben 10 and licensees have been working tirelessly to get product into market for Q4,” Fenwick continues. “We have repeated this toy-led approach across the region and have co-ordinated activities across the network to support Bandai and our partners, which again has lead to more licensees signing up across EMEA as this process rolls out.”

Over 40 licensees have been secured across EMEA for Ben 10, incorporating all major licensing categories. And there are more in the pipeline to tie-in with the ongoing toy launches.

“On a territory by territory basis we have a few opportunities still remaining, mostly as we are still evaluating proposals from prospective licensees,” Fenwick confirms. “From a UK point of view, the key remaining category is stationery.”

Fenwick joined CNE from Warner Bros Entertainment UK where he held the position of UK retail director, spearheading retail lifecycle strategies across theatrical, Warner Home Video, television, consumer products, online and mobile divisions. Under his tenure at CNE, as well as the success for Ben 10, The Powerpuff Girls, Foster’s Home for Imaginary Friends, Robot Boy and The Grim Adventures of Billy and Mandy are all getting solid support.

Next up for CNE is a live action film arriving in the New Year, which stars Lee Majors as Grandpa Max, while there is also a new series in production for 2008. According to Fenwick, other surprises are in store, but he prefers to keep his powder dry at the moment.

It’s clear that Ben 10 has now set a precedent when it comes to licensing a boy-skewed property. Fenwick believes that its online presence, for example, contributed enormously to building up the fan base and helping product sell a long time before it was airing on a terrestrial broadcaster.

And there’s more to come in the next six to 12 months, too. “We want to continue to repeat the success of the Ben 10 UK launch across Europe, the Middle East and Africa, and also continue to work closely with our licensees to produce must-have products,” says Fenwick.

“2008 also sees us prepare for the tenth anniversary of the Powerpuff Girls launch across EMEA and we have a number of very exciting initiatives that tie into this which we will be releasing in the next few months.

“In addition in the UK, we have a number of new initiatives coming through which include our first live action comedy series, My Spy Family, and we have also just launched Nuts TV. There is also our Adult Swim (animation for grown-ups) strand on Bravo, which is attracting a very cool crowd and we have recently established our own UK-based commissioning and production division under Finn Arnesen called Cartoon Network Development Studio Europe.”

As well as all of this, Cartoon Network and a general entertainment free-to-air channel will be launching in Turkey from January, which will include a dedicated kids block with a number of key shows such as Ben 10 and Powerpuff Girls.

And that’s certainly enough to keep those busy levels – and indeed success levels – high for Fenwick and his team for a while yet.