Chris Maier (oom9@crosswinds.net)
Mon, 18 Sep 2000 14:03:30 -0400


  Well, even though Gundam makes some concessions to merchandising, we have
to remember that Star Wars does basically the same thing. I mean, basically
every thing from the movies are available on toy store shelves. Also,
Gundam's merchandise is usually of a high guality, whereas the merchandise
for Pokemon Power rangers, and Star Wars reeks too much of assembly-line
shodinness. Part of Gundam's strength is not only is it an enjoyable show,
but a fun hobby as well.
   As for whether Gundam is viewed as a toy commercial, I asked a
proffessional movie critic to examine Wing after a scathing article on
Pokemon and anime in general(Including Princess Mononoke!) suprisingly
enough, he enjoyed the show, saying that he enjoyed it's visual style and
dark underrcurrents. When I told him that the show had a very profitable
model kit line, he didn't seem to care!
   As for commercials, CN did run some model kit commercials during the
first run of GW but I thought they were actually well done. And they really
haven't shown them that much since. Also, DBZ has been a huge success for
CN, but I hardly see a large number of commercials. CN seems to be a rather
restrained network when it comes to advertising, they are after all, cable
and don't have the same market penetration as network shows.
  As long as Bandai doesn't go too overboard with the merchandising, I think
Gundam will not fall into the pit of Pokemon and Star Wars and become so
popular it becomes hated by everyone(Not that Pokemon deserves to be liked).
Bandai's main focus at the moment anyway seems to be putting more anime on
TV, with Escaflowne, Big O, Outlaw Star, Z-mind and yes, even Dinozaurs
making or about to make their debut on TV. I'm expecting a fairly big push
for 08th MS team as well.

-----Original Message-----
From: owner-gundam@1u.aeug.org [mailto:owner-gundam@1u.aeug.org]On
Behalf Of -Z-
Sent: Monday, September 18, 2000 1:31 PM
To: gundam@aeug.org
Subject: [gundam] Does Gundam Target Kids?

The argument has been made that the Pokemon TV series isn't an advertisement
for
the card game and other merchandise, because the show doesn't have the
characters playing the card game. I don't buy this for a number of reasons,
dating back 20-odd years to the He-Man and G.I. Joe cartoons that instigated
regulations (since abandoned) against shows that were, in and of themselves,
advertisments for products targeted at children.

It's a matter of which is the tail and which is the dog. In acceptable
marketing, the dog wags the tail; in targeted marketing, the tail wags the
dog.

Franchises like Star Trek, Star Wars, and Babylon 5 have heavy marketing,
but
the merchandising is kept separate from the TV or film presentation, which
also
generally establishes its story and characterd well in advance of the
merchandising. They also don't advertise the merchandise during the
presentation -- the ad campaign in in a separate venue, with commercials run
during other programs. (I've seen ads for Star Trek conventions during Star
Trek, but they were local, not national, ads. Even the Sci-Fi Channel
avoids
advertising related merchandise in the actual run of the episode or movie,
although they did do a QVC/HSN type memorabilia sale during the run of the
Star
Wars movie trilogy and the "restored" Star Trek epsiode marathon. Still,
with
the possible exception of Star Wars I: The Phantom Menace, the shows clearly
came first and the merchandising second.)

Targeted marketing is the other way around. The line of merchandise is
established first, then a presentation is made using the characters from the
line of merchandise, which are advertised very heavily before, during, and
after
the presentation. Pokemon is the most egregious offender of late -- I saw
ads
for the new line of cards appended to the trailer for the movie and I see
them
all through the Kids WB cartoon block (I follow the Batman-Superman
cartoons,
which were recently interleaved with Pokemon, such that you got a half hour
of
one, then the other--ptui!) And, just today, I saw the end of a segement of
Pokemon containing the following exchange:

ASH: Wow, Professor! You've got every Pokemon in the world!

PROF: No, Ash. No one really knows how many Pokemon there are. We used to
think there were only 150, but then me found <whatchamacallit>. We may
never
know how many there are. The search for new Pokemon is a never-ending
quest.

Ash then remembers seeing an unknown Pokemon (Gold, I think) and vows that
he
won't quit until he's found and captured them all.

Could we possibly be any more blatantly obvious? "Gotta catch 'em all!"
followed by "We'll never know how many there are ... we'll just have to keep
on
looking!"

And the Bandai/Saban Power Rangers are arguably even worse, since every prop
in
the TV shows and movies is available as a toy.

Which brings me to Gundam. Although it broke the mold and redefined the
Giant
Robot genre, it was merchandise driven from the start. Mobile suits lined
up to
fight and be defeated by the all-powerful Gundam and all of them became part
of
the "Plamodel" line, which was advertised before, during, and after the
actual
show.

Sound familiar?

Now, it can be argued that the glue-and-paint models require and are thus
aimed
at a more mature audience than, say, a line of collectible cards, toys,
keychains, and such. One could even argue that the snap-together system
injection kits require a somewhat less but still more mature audience than
the
traditional action figures and playsets. But I submit that Gundam was as
much
an extended advertisment for its merchandising line as was He-Man or G.I.
Joe
over here.

Insofar as I've seen, Cartoon Network has shown Gundam Wing without
reference to
the action figures that are now becoming available, but that could change.
I'd
really hate to see that, because it woul make Cartoon Network no different
from
Kids WB in regard to targeted marketing.

-Z-

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