2007 Hot Property

Principal: John Friend, senior VP, Cartoon Network Enterprises

Licensees include: First Look Pictures, Ripple Junction, Midway Games

The story: Licensing campaigns don’t need to be huge to be successful. Take “Hunger Force.”

An original denizen of Cartoon Network’s young-adult-skewing Adult Swim block, it attracts a young, educated aud that doesn’t like to be marketed to, Friend notes.

It’s in the overcoming of that key challenge that makes this property so unique.

“Traditionally, we haven’t done a lot of licensing and merchandising around our Adult Swim franchises outside homevideo,” Friend explains. “We have always been cautious about overmerchandising the shows and preserving that cool factor the Adult Swim audience finds appealing.

“That said, we are looking to expand later this year into some toy and collectible categories for ‘Aqua Teen Hunger Force’ as well as some of our more popular series such as ‘Robot Chicken’ and ‘Metalocalypse.'”

There’s also a “Hunger Force” console game due out from Midway this fall.

With TV auds spiking 78% for the out-there toon series that chronicles the lives of fast-food meal components Master Shake, Frylock and Meatwad, “Aqua Teen Hunger Force” was spun off into a First Look theatrical film earlier this year.

A box office yield of about $5.5 million was offset by the $2 million Cartoon Net parent company Time Warner had to pay to fix the little marketing fiasco that went down in Boston, when locals and officials mistook clandestine promotional signage for the film (such as boxes hung under bridges around Beantown) for a terrorist attack.

Of course, with the Adult Swim aud, that kind of controversy probably added cache to the property.

POV: “I’m betting it will be the first combat/golf-cart-racing game on the planet, certainly the first to involve talking fast-food items,” says Friend of the pending “Hunger Force” vidgame.

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