Stop us if you’ve heard this one before: A robot, a dinosaur and a unicorn start playing in space, and suddenly people who watch them have a hankering to check out a new show about to debut on NBCUniversal kiddie-cabler Sprout.
The story sounds funny, but it’s not really a joke. Sprout, which represents NBCU’s effort to do battle for younger audiences against Time Warner’s Cartoon Network, Walt Disney’s suite of networks and Viacom’s Nickelodeon, has launched a video on YouTube that has a trio of curious aliens interrupt the scenario described above, all in the hope of snaring attention for a new original series, “Floogals,”which launches 8 p.m. Eastern on January 23, and will air as part of a nighttime block of programming called “The Good Night Show.”
“Floogals” carries some weight at the network, which has worked in recent years to develop originals that it can more easily monetize, rather than relying heavily on acquired programming. Sprout was originally formed in 2005 by Comcast, PBS, HIT Television Ventures, and Sesame Workshop before being bought outright by the Philadelphia cable giant’s NBCUniversal in 2012.
Promotions for “Floogals,” which feature animated characters set against live backdrops, try to play on the inquisitiveness of the characters and the children who are the likely candidates to watch them, said Jennifer Giddens, vice president of marketing at the network, in an interview. “We are looking at a kid’s world and where they are consuming media, and asking ‘How would a Floogal see it? How would a Floogal approach it?’” she said.
The YouTube video features a brief cameo by the show’s stars: Captain Fleeker, Flo and Boomer, and aims to show how the Floogals, like kids, are curious about everything they see around them. In the vignette, a robot, a dinosaur and a unicorn crack open a series of eggs and discover a glitter shower and other oddball delights. Another Sprout character, the anthropomorphic chicken known as Chica, also makes an appearance.
The video is meant to emulate the “unboxing”phenomenon, said Giddens, in which young kids are spotted unwrapping gifts or exploring the contents of packages. “It’s the unknown, and the exploration of it,” she said. For the Floogals, “their mandate is to find, question and explore.”
Other elements of the campaign will involve the characters asking questions about their surroundings on outdoor billboards and sponsored content on BuzzFeed, Giddens said.
The executive will have more work ahead. “This is the first launch in what we hope is going to be a really robust year of content for Sprout,” she said.