Cartoon Network doesn’t adhere to the same strict educational curriculum as PBS or Disney Junior.
“We are not an education network,” the cabler’s social responsibility veep Alice Cahn says. “We are an entertainment network.”
For the past three years, however, Cartoon Network has spearheaded both an anti-obesity initiative and bullying-prevention program to help make childhood a safer, happier, healthier experience for its enthusiastic fan base.
“We are in the kids business, and we owe a large degree of giving back and helping our audience with issues that are important to them,” says Cartoon Network prexy Stuart Snyder. “Childhood obesity is an epidemic to our country, and that’s why for the past here years we’ve done the Move It Movement Tour, which is all about getting kids to eat healthier and to exercise more and to live a healthier lifestyle.”
The Movement campaign, which is in partnership with the President’s Council on Fitness, Sports & Nutrition and in support of first lady Michelle Obama’s “Let’s move!” initiative, consists not only of a 17-city tour with multiple activity and learning stations, but also national public service announcements and interactive features on the CN website.
“Our network takes very seriously its commitment to producing responsible entertainment,” Cahn says. “They kids are not coming to us because they’re going to learn math; they’re coming because they’re going to see their lives reflected.”
To that end, the network’s Stop Bullying: Speak Up media education campaign is designed to empower both kids and adults with the information and resources to stop bullying — which has become a huge issue for children of all ages — in its tracks.
“Our audience came to us and told us that bullying was a top of importance to them,” Snyder says. “They felt that if they had the proper tools they could do something about it. And that’s why we started the campaign, and it has continued to build over the last three years that we have been doing it.”
Selected highlights of the Stop Bullying campaign included an on-air documentary, a series of interstitials, PSAs and other video and online content. CN has also teamed up with Facebook and Time Warner to create the Stop Bullying: Speak Up Social Pledge app, where kids, families and communities can discuss the topic and take the pledge to stop bullying.
In addition, “Gumball,” a ratings favorite about a family of animated cats, a rabbit and a goldfish that grows legs, features scenes that focus on bullying prevention.
“We use our entertainment platform to give kids the skills and confidence to make them feel better and make their friends feel better,” says Cahn. “It’s all part of what our brand is — making kids feel good about themselves and feel good about the world around them.”
Creative minds unleased | Whims win for sassy Swim | Animators trust innner risktakers | Toons speak global language | A wealth of health in net’s social efforts | Cartoon Network: 20 years of milestones