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Tuesday, Sep 19, 2006

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Cartoon Network to keep Pogo toys affordable

Our Bureau

Chennai , Sept. 18

Cartoon Network Enterprises (CNE), which has announced its foray into marketing toys under the Pogo brand, says the brand does not want to be elitist in pricing or distribution.

Speaking to Business Line, Mr Jiggy George, Director, Cartoon Network Enterprises (India & South Asia), said the brand will build enough quantity to keep prices affordable. To make a beginning, it has priced its Pogo Wheels (racing toys which use wheels, skates and flying mechanism) from Rs 399 for the basic models.

Right now, there are eight products in this range. Prices go up to Rs 1,129 for the Turbo Launcher.

The toys will be available from the first week of October at retail chains such as Lifestyle, Shoppers' Stop, Landmark and Pantaloons as well as toy stores and local multi-brand outlets such as Connexions in Chennai. They will be available in 450 stores across 38 cities. Later on, they will also be sold in Pogo's theme park slated to open next summer near Delhi.

CNE is even putting a few of these toys in select department stores to showcase them and capitalise on impulse purchases as well.

The Pogo toys are not and will not be based on any of the shows on the channel as it does not own them, Mr George said. In contrast, sister channel CNE sells around 800 consumer products across 13 categories, based on several shows that run on Cartoon Network.

Mr George said CNE was using the TV channel as a base to enter new businesses, such as toys. It also gives the target audience to get a touch and feel of the brand outside the TV, he said.

Pogo Toys and later other categories would naturally be advertised on the channel and use Prime Pogo hosts Rob, Niall and Chinu. CNE is leveraging "good brand equity, a great product and fabulous distribution" to its advantage, he said. The Pogo toys are created with the expertise of a US-based company Jakks Pacific and distributed by the Mumbai-based Cybershop Marketing Pvt Ltd, a specialist in marketing toys.

Plans for merchandising based on Cartoon Network include launching a pre-school category and adding more characters, Mr George said. The merchandising market is worth Rs 300 crore while the toys market is Rs 600 crore, of which only 40 per cent accounts for the organised sector.

The growth of organised retail at 25 per cent every year and the 50 per cent year-on-year growth of CNE's merchandising business are what make Mr George upbeat about his company's prospects.

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