Cartoon Network Africa this year announced the launch of its brand-new initiative, Cartoon Network Africa Creative Lab, designed to bring innovative, local short form content to the channel and its digital platforms, while reinforcing the local relevance of the brand.
I spoke to Ariane Suveg, the Senior Programming & Acquisitions Manager for Turner Kids’ channels in Africa, about the project, its prospects and more in the following interview:
Why did CN decide to give a spotlight to African animators now?
Cartoon Network enjoys a strong following on the continent, and we continually strive to create a viewing experience that resonates with our African audience. Our localisation strategy that identifies the cultural differences of our African markets, and which we have implemented for the past four years, has undoubtedly boosted our brand value across the continent.
Our African collaborations include partnering with Animation South Africa (ASA) as the official sponsor of the first-ever “Animation Lounge” at DISCOP 2016. That same year, we also hosted the “Turner Kid’s Pitching Competition”, a first strong initiative to bring forward African talent. Cape Town-based Punch Monkey Studio brought amazing creativity and originality to their winning entry, Cloud Life. The project has been traveling through the Turner group and is now in a development process with the Turner Asia Pacific production team! This just reinforces our need to invest in local content and our commitment to further mentoring talent in the African animation industry. Last year, we also sponsored the “African Animation Network (AAN) Village”, boosting AAN’s efforts to develop animation talent in Africa. We expanded our presence and hosted panels with various African organisations, discussing the opportunities and challenges faced in promoting African animation productions at local and international levels.
The results from the above are evidence that the African animation community is blooming, and we have built many important relationships within the local market. At last year’s “Animation Village” we truly felt a change in the air, with new ambition and talent pushing forward and creating new structures to how the local animation community collaborates and communicates and so now is the time to tap into these creative minds in Africa which will be essential in paving the way forward for us to get straight to the hearts of the fast growing African audience.
With Cartoon Network’s Creative Lab, we are taking a step further to strengthen our position within the African animation industry with the end goal being partnering with local talents that will bring crazy creative ideas to the table, thinking completely outside the box. We believe that this will result in a genuine African sense of humor, which in turn will result in content loved by young African audiences.
This is the second time such a call has been made by CN on African animators. What was the results or impact of the first one and how different would it be this time?
Cape Town-based Punch Monkey Studio brought amazing creativity and originality to their winning entry at the “Turner Kid’s Pitching Competition” at DISCOP 2016, with a project called Cloud Life. The project has been traveling through the Turner group and is now in a development process with the Turner Asia Pacific production team! This just reinforces our need to invest in local content and our commitment to further mentoring talent in the African animation industry. We hope to see the winners of this initiative to flourish in their career as content creators, following the footsteps of Punch Monkey Studios’ Cloud Life.
Our African audience is demanding locally relevant content, that resonates with the rich storytelling that is out there on the continent. Over the years, we have built many great relationships with African creators and networks. We have lead multiple interesting initiatives over the years, learning how the market works. We now feel that running competition like this allows us to reach creators and talents outside of the general structures, bigger production companies and established networks, and for talents to get the confidence to reach out to us. We look forward to meeting many creative individuals on this journey, and we are convinced that we will build new relationships along the way. It is time for unique African stories to be seen on our channel.
What advice would CN have for African animators in terms of growing their crafts and taking it to the world, with or without the support of CN?
Our work in Africa, and the general international film market today, confirms that African rooted content and unique storytelling is relevant and appealing to a global audience. Don’t try to conform to standards and already made concepts – but continue to be unique!
At Turner we pride ourselves in our diverse and original content. We are not looking for something that fits a specific pattern, or based on certain criteria for the Creative Lab competition. Rather we are encouraging creators to challenge the status quo with something new, irreverent, smart and unexpected … something that will resonate with our African audience. We are constantly on the lookout for new projects that have never been done before – we want them to wow us! The possibilities with working with a global company are endless, so we encourage our applicants to stay unique.
With lots of channels now specializing in showing cartoons and children’s programming across Africa and world, does CN feel it’s lost its role as a leader in that space and what are some of the ideas the network would be implementing to suit the changing times?
Cartoon Network is the strongest Pay-TV kids channel on the African market, with many shows beloved by African families. This is definitely due to our hard work and dedicated localization strategy, our passion to listen to our audience and staying locally relevant. The market has many new players today, which pushes us to constantly try to find new ways to inspire and entertain our dedicated fans and audience. Children today consume content in new ways and formats, and it’s up to us to meet their needs. It is a challenging time, but a very exciting one for sure!
Ariane Suveg has a Master’s degree in Audiovisual Law & Administration, and a Political Sciences School Degree from The Paris Institute of Political Studies (Institut d’Etudes Politiques de Paris).
Suveg started her career at Canal+, a French pay TV group, in the programming department.
She joined Carat (Aegis Group) as a Media and TV Programmes Marketing Consultant for five years, after which she joined Nickelodeon (Viacom) as Scheduling Director. In October 2008, Suveg moved to Gulli, the French free-to-air kids channel, as Programming Director.
Suveg enhanced her experience in programming and marketing at Vivolta, the French pay lifestyle channel, and went further to leading a Consultancy Mission at SVOD content for kids (Starz).
Suveg joined Turner in 2015 where she currently manages all programming and acquisitions for Cartoon Network, Boomerang and Boing in English Speaking Africa.