DISNEY CHANNEL OPENS $10 MIL REVIEW

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The Disney Channel is asking agencies to pitch its $10 million account as the premium cable network prepares an image makeover modeled after kids powerhouse Nickelodeon.

The review was initiated by Nickelodeon's former president, Geraldine Laybourne, now president of Disney/ABC Cable Networks.

MULLEN SCOUTS AGENCIES

In an interesting twist, Ms. Laybourne asked another agency executive, James Mullen, CEO of Mullen Advertising, Wenham, Mass., who served as a consultant to Ms. Laybourne at Nickelodeon and for other Viacom properties, to scout qualified agencies, although his agency won't pitch.

Mr. Mullen's involvement isn't viewed as a threat since Disney specifically is looking for a West Coast-based shop.

Agencies that have been approached include Citron Haligman Bedecarre; Goldberg Moser O'Neill; Goodby, Silverstein & Partners; and Hal Riney & Partners, all San Francisco. Rubin Postaer & Associates, Santa Monica, Calif., is the incumbent.

Ms. Laybourne is said to want to refocus the Disney Channel on kids and family and create branded programming and marketing properties as at Nickelodeon. She recently tapped Anne Sweeney, also a Nickelodeon vet, as president of the Disney Channel.

SWITCH TO BASIC CABLE POSSIBLE

There is speculation the Disney Channel may switch to a basic cable network, but agencies asked to pitch the account haven't been told to focus there.

"The problem as the Disney Channel sees it isn't distribution but that consumers don't know what the Disney Channel stands for, that there isn't a consistency of vision and definition of the brand," said one agency executive.

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