Teletubbies head for video stores

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The Teletubbies will jabber their way into video stores in September, but no promotional partners will be on board for the ride. At least not yet.

Warner Bros. Home Video next month introduces the first two U.S. home videos licensed by the show's owner, Ragdoll Productions, and U.S. marketing agent Itsy Bitsy Entertainment Co. While bearing the PBS Kids brand, "Here Come the Teletubbies" and "Dance With the Teletubbies" contain episodes produced exclusively for video.


Warner Bros. is supporting the introduction with a $1 million-plus ad push, sizable for a home video release. Half-page spreads hit the week prior to the Sept. 1 launch.

A TV spot will air on most broadcast networks, A&E, Discovery Channel, Learning Channel, Lifetime and Turner Network Television. The spot will have Mom, Dad, children and Grandma mimicking the Teletubbies' antics, and will promote the videos as fun for all ages. "The spot positions the video as appropriate for ages 1 and up," said Dan Capone, director of marketing for Warner Bros. Family Entertainment.

CBO Design, Los Angeles, handles the TV advertising, and B.D. Fox & Friends, Santa Monica, Calif., handles print.

"Teletubbies" made its U.S. debut on the Public Broadcasting Service in April. PBS said "Teletubbies" ranks in the top five of its children's programming offerings, with first-year audience totals comparable to "Barney's" during its first year.

The video has no promo partners, Mr. Capone said, because Itsy Bitsy and Warner Bros. believe unneeded commercialization will burn out the phenomenon.

" `Teletubby' mania [in the U.S.] is really just now beginning, and we don't need so many other things going on," Mr. Capone said, adding that the PBS series--plus merchandise marketed by Hasbro, Scholastic and others--does enough to generate buzz.


The "Teletubbies" launch comes as Hollywood unleashes a host of new family video titles.

Among them: Warner Bros.' "Scooby Doo on Zombie Island," with Wendy's International, MCI Communications' 1-800-COLLECT and Campbell Soup Co.'s Franco-American as promo partners; and "Quest for Camelot," with support from American Express Co., Best Western International, Continental Airlines and J.M. Smucker Co. Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Home Entertainment will also relaunch "Chitty Chitty Bang Bang" Oct. 20, with assistance from Hygrade Foods' Ball Park franks, F.A.O. Schwarz and Virgin Atlantic Airways.

Copyright August 1998, Crain Communications Inc.

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