An unusually large number of classic characters for children are being freshened up and reintroduced — on store shelves, on the Internet and on television screens — as their corporate owners try to cater to parents’ nostalgia and children’s YouTube-era sensibilities. Adding momentum is a retail sector hoping to find refuge from a rough economy in the tried and true.
Warner Brothers hopes to “reinvigorate and reimagine” Bugs Bunny and Scooby-Doo through a new virtual world on the Internet, where people will be able to dress up the characters pretty much any way they want. American Greetings is dusting off another of its lines, the Care Bears, which will return with a fresh look this fall (less belly fat, longer eyelashes).
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Reinventing these beloved characters without inflicting indelible damage is one of the entertainment industry’s trickiest maneuvers. Go too far, as Mattel did in 1993 when it gave Ken a purple mesh T-shirt, a pierced ear and the name “Earring Magic Ken,” and it can set off a brand crisis on a global scale.
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At KidsWB.com, which is rolling out a revised site over the summer, the studio will let people customize Looney Tunes characters as they see fit.
“You want a dark, Goth version of Tweety Bird? Have at it,” said Lisa Gregorian, executive vice president for worldwide marketing at Warner Brothers Television.