Liquid Assets More so than ever, networks are exploring unconventional ways to market and strengthen their brands. TV ASIA Plus takes a wild ride with Turner Broadcasting System Asia Pacific, Inc. to discover how and why the media company is embarking on a wet adventure into Thailand next year. By Kelvin Ong Imagine a water theme park filled with more than just the usual pools, slides and rides, but also one inspired by and designed around animated characters from Cartoon Network programmes such as Ben 10, The Powerpuff Girls, Johnny Bravo and The Amazing World of Gumball. Well, such an attraction is already in the works for Turner Broadcasting System Asia Pacific, Inc., which owns and operates the kids channel Cartoon Network. Cartoon Network Amazone, a new water theme park, is slated to open in 2013 and will be located at the resort town of Bang Saray, a 15-minute drive from Pattaya Beach City on the East coast of Thailand. As its name suggests, the adventure destination will be Cartoon Networkthemed, infused with elements reminiscent of the Amazon rainforest. According to the Pay-TV broadcaster, the waterpark “will feature exciting signature attractions including a gigantic family wave pool, a winding adventure river, speed-racing slides, family raft rides and one of the
world’s largest interactive water play fortresses for kids.” This is aimed at reflecting the Cartoon Network
brand, which is “all about the fun and energy of the playground.” Developed in conjunction with Amazon Falls Co. Ltd, an attractions and resorts developer in Thailand, phase one of the waterpark is already underway, and when completed, will cover 14 acres of coastal plains in Bang Saray. When fully operational, Cartoon Network Amazone is set to attract up to 800,000 visitors a year.
The Amazing World of Gumball
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The project is no small undertaking, Bangkok Post reports that it costs the Time Warner subsidiary an estimated 1 billion Thai baht to build. But Turner sees this as a long-term
investment that will elevate the Cartoon Network brand and create greater value, making it more than just a kids channel offering content via traditional means. Sunny Saha, Senior Vice President and Managing Director, Turner Broadcasting System Asia Pacific, Inc., finds that conceptualizing the theme park around well-known Cartoon Network characters has a two-fold advantage – it makes the vacation spot appealing to families, and also reinforces the Cartoon Network brand. “The addition of Cartoon Network Amazone means that families can literally step into our vibrant world of animation and vacation with their favourite characters like never before,” says Saha.
marketing&events Network. They love our brand, trust it and know that we will deliver an unforgettable vacation experience. The focus from the outset is not on trying to build up brand new characters, but rather amplifying the appeal of our existing, popular characters. It’s definitely a headstart to have such incredible cartoon heroes as our brand ambassadors.
TVAPlus: What are the licensing and merchandising opportunities that come with establishing a recreation park like this?
The Powerpuff Girls
Saha also tells TV ASIA Plus that from a commercial standpoint, this move makes perfect financial sense because the theme park takes advantage of established concepts, stories and characters, which are already familiar to audiences, instead of trying to create new ones from scratch; a riskier strategy. Furthermore, Cartoon Network’s diverse portfolio presents a vast opportunity for branding that can be leveraged upon. The recreation park also possesses tremendous merchandizing opportunities. The network plans to put the biggest collection of Cartoon Network merchandise in the world on sale, on location. Saha says that “everything from plush dolls and pool inflatables to beach-inspired apparel and toys” will be available to visitors.
is all about, and what makes it so special.
TVAPlus: What are some of the advantages of setting up a waterpark where characters come from well-known programmes on the channel? There are huge advantages. Firstly, from a child’s perspective it is the ultimate excitement as it’s a chance to get up close and personal with your favourite cartoon heroes like never before. From a business perspective, leveraging the power of established characters creates an immediate draw as consumers want to experience the world of Cartoon
We will be working with our existing licensees in Thailand and partners from around the region to expand our product range. We’re very excited about featuring merchandise that is exclusive to Cartoon Network Amazone.
TVAPlus: Which key characters/ programmes on Cartoon Network will be featured most prominently at the theme park and why? Cartoon Network Amazone will have a huge personality brought to life by our original series and characters. Cartoon Network originals are distinctly unique so there will be various zones themed to these
series. Kids will be able to hang out with icons and animated heroes including Johnny Bravo, Ben 10, The Powerpuff Girls, Finn and Jake from Adventure Time, and Gumball and Darwin from The Amazing World of Gumball. Everyone’s favourite toons are included so there’s something – and someone – for guests of all ages!
TVAPlus: How will Cartoon Network’s programming evolve with the presence of the waterpark? Cartoon Network’s programming will continue to focus on fun, comedy and adventure, which is also reflected in the theme park’s personality. Cartoon Network Amazone is sure to make kids feel even closer to the characters. What could be cooler than going on a holiday with Ben 10?
TVAPlus: How can the waterpark help grow Cartoon Network’s audience?
Liakat Dhanji, Chairman, Amazon Falls Co. Ltd., agrees. He said, “The addition of Cartoon Network Amazone marks Thailand’s very first internationally-branded water theme park. Cartoon Network is a global household name, and with this strategic alliance, we have no doubt that by welcoming our guests to meet their favourite Cartoon Network heroes, it will be a great draw for our park.” As preparation and construction begins for launch next year, Saha lets TV ASIA Plus in on what exactly the world’s first themed waterpark
Cartoon Network Amazone will house one of the largest collections of Cartoon Network merchandise in the world. It will be a permanent showcase of our best products spanning everything from plush dolls and pool inflatables to beach-inspired apparel and toys.
Cartoon Network has really gone beyond its origins as a television channel to become a platformagnostic lifestyle experience. Cartoon Network is available in a multitude of branded environments including TV, digital, retail and live events so the addition of a themed waterpark extends this experience even further, allowing consumers to immerse themselves in this dynamic, animated world. This builds even greater affinity and engagement with Cartoon Network, ultimately growing our fan base. TVAplus
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Turner opens Cartoon Network-themed waterpark in Thailand.