Our mission is to keep the local flavour to our channel in Africa – Suveg

Ariane Suveg is the head of Kids Channels for WarnerMedia in France, Africa and Israel. She currently manages editorial and marketing strategy for WarnerMedia kids’ channels Cartoon Network, Boomerang and Boing in France, Africa and Israel. In this interview with IFEOMA OKEKE, she speaks on the reasons WarnerMedia created Cartoon Network Dance Challenge and its anticipated impact.

What is the Cartoon Network Dance Challenge on WarnerMedia all about?

The title of the show is Cartoon Network Dance Challenge. It is a new show on Cartoon Network. Previously, we had created and produced several shows around dance. The first one was called The Cartoon Network Pop Up party. Cartoon Network in Africa is really based on our very well-known animated series from output produced in the United States.

Our mission is really to keep the local flavour to our channel in Africa. So since a few years now, we have been producing a lot of local shows especially in live action and dance is really for us- a good way to entertain kids locally in Africa and to showcase African kids. So in this new edition, we are mixing African kids, coming from South Africa and also Nigeria with brand new animated characters and we are going to have dance battles between those real kids who are Cartoon Network fans and these animated dancers.

So it is new steps around the idea of Dance battle because we are working on dance because for us, it’s a very unique way to entertain kids locally, because we think in a lot of territories in Africa, dance and music is such something so strong and for kids, it’s a unique way to express themselves as they are, to express their individuality and to also sometimes emancipate themselves from their original background. It’s really in line with what Cartoon Network is today. It’s a channel where you can express yourself and express your creativity.

Cartoon Network Dance Challenge is going to be a very energetic show and very fun and creative show for us and it’s totally produced locally with Nigerian producers and creators.

Read Also: Cartoon Network looks to Africa for fresh content, talents

Having given that background, I’d like to know how many of these challenges you’ve held in Africa so far, particularly in Nigeria. And what plans do you also have for the Nigeria markets?

Cartoon Network in Africa is covering the entire sub Saharan parts of Africa. So when Cartoon Network is airing, the channel is airing in Nigeria but also in all Sub-Saharan territories. When we are producing a new show, it goes on Cartoon Network and the show is seen across the entire continent. For now, we are not producing specifically for Nigeria; we are producing for all the other continents.

In the past, we did three seasons of this show- a pop up party. It was mainly shot in South Africa, but we also did an edition in Kenya. But we have worked with Benjamin from Nigeria and so it shows that the show this year has Nigerian flavour, which is great. So it’s really crucial for us to have the representation of Nigeria out there, but just for you to know, it’s going to be aired across the entire continent.

I would like to know the success stories of the past campaigns you’d held in Africa?

For us, it’s not only campaigns, it’s really about content. So we are producing these live actions shows in Africa. It is really content and a program for us. It is true that it is designed for linear consumption and the first point of the success is that all the editions of The Pop-up Party generated a very high level of consumption. It did incredibly well with very high ratings. It’s a proof of the success of local content not only because it’s dance and it’s about having kids on air but it’s mainly because we don’t have so many locally produced shows.

So each time we have great content, we see the ratings, we see all the noises that are made around, we see the shares and comments on social media. For instance, it’s really fantastic to have this especially around dance because you have the kids in there, you have the choreographer and the music. It’s something really vibrant and we generate a lot of talks around the content and we see that the audiences are really engaged around this content. We give a huge exposure each time we do these local productions on air but also on digital and on our social media and it’s really on all the touch points.

For us, it’s really a success. It is also a way to build strong relationships with local talents, local creators and local production companies. It’s really strategic for us to have these talents, showcase these talents and give more and more opportunities to African creators, directors to have their place on air. So that’s what we are building both in live action. So, the new show is Cartoon Network Dance Challenge but we are also into this direction of nurturing talents and giving a place to talents through animations.

As a new show, is it for a period of time? How long are you going to continue the show?

What is great on kids’ channels is that you can build a huge event around the launch of the show. So we have several episodes. We have a specific rollout of this episode premiere on air. It’s a huge event with one new episode each week on air, and also we will have dance tutorials with the two animated characters on digital.

So it’s going to be one event each week for nine weeks. And then, what is fantastic with kids’ channels is that kids love to watch and watch and watch again. So, there will be, of course, repeats of the episodes of CN Dance Challenge and also we are regularly building some special stunts and events around dance. We will also have other events around this show, and we also have an offer; a catch-up offer and non-demand offer. So basically, there will be many opportunities to watch the show.

What age grades are you targeting and why?

It’s quite broad because our core target is Cartoon Network. Its kids’ age, I would say 6 to 10 is really our core target. But globally, the ratings are so high and we see that we are very strong also with the youngest kids and also with the oldest, and we also have a family around. So it’s quite a large chart target. It’s great, because it’s really neutral in terms of gender, hence, appealing to boys and girls, as well. That’s why we are so happy to have this kind of content as well.

How many weeks is a challenge running for?

The challenge will run for nine weeks. We will have the challenge each week. So basically, the two animated characters are going to do their dance on air so the kids will have the time during one week to discover the choreography of the week. Then in parallel, you will have on YouTube and digital platforms the longer format, like a tutorial so the kids will have the possibility to learn the moves. And then after each week, kids will discover some real kids doing dance battles in split screen with the choreographers.

Are there any entry formats/ requirements for participation?

We will see in the future following the success of this show, we will think about potentially opening ourselves to our fans’ participation. On this edition, it was really a selection of fans that had the chance to do these dance battles.

Are there rewards for winners in the Cartoon Network Dance Shows?

It’s not a game because for us it’s great to have winners, of course, but these kids are already winners. So it’s not a game show in the sense where you would have winners and losers and rewards. For us, if you want to see the reward, it’s more about the opportunity to be on air to dance and to demonstrate your talent. That’s the idea; it’s about showing our audience these kids who are amazing dancers. And so we did this selection, so it’s not a game show, it’s more about showcasing talents on air.

You brought the show to South Africa, Kenya and now you’re bringing it to Nigeria. What next are you looking at showcasing or where next?

In the very first seasons of Pop Up party as I said previously, the seasons were shot in South Africa, and then we shot one season in Kenya. But again, this show, apart from the place where they are shot, they are broadcasted across the entire continent. So, don’t make the confusion between where they are produced and where they aired. It is just that we want on air to be representative of all the cultures of Africa and it’s just that it’s a huge continent. Step by step, we are involving kids and talents coming from different territories.

So through this perspective, our desire is of course to explore other territories. For now, I don’t know where we’d be shooting the next live action show but for sure we want to explore other territories

How did you discover Bennie D?

To be honest, Bennie D met with our creative director, Nicola Huston. It was really a very good fit between creative people- Ben coming from Nigeria, Nicola based in France but working in the international group for Africa. Globally, we at Cartoon Network are really fascinated by lots of talents coming from Nigeria around animation. I think Ben did a fantastic proposal and it was very new for us. The fact that we could work and it’s not easy in animation to have this feeling of dance and to execute in a very good and appealing way these dance moves.

So the proposal of Ben was very attractive and in terms of techniques, very seducing. We had the conviction that we could produce in a quite short period of time, very high quality elements and the proposal was so unique; also mixing the Nigerian music style.

Yes the idea was to test, to innovate. That’s why we started working together, and I’m very happy with the result.

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