Animal Planet Changes Its Stripes

Animal Planet is ditching its stoic elephant-and-globe logo for a bolder, words-only logo that can be juxtaposed over a variety of animal photos, beginning Feb. 3.

Executives said the new logo offers more flexibility than the old. To kick it off, new consumer messages will begin next month and eight new series and specials are planned for February.

The goal is to move from being perceived by viewers as paternalistic, preachy, and observation-based to being seen as active, entertaining and edgy. That means targeting adults 25-49, rather than full families, with less voice-of-God narration and more visceral imagery and sounds. Think of it as swapping a drab narrator saying that a lion is about to kill its prey for the blood-curdling scream of the doomed creature as it meets its demise.

"At Animal Planet, we want you to feel first before you start thinking," said Marjorie Kaplan, president and general manager of Animal Planet Media.

Giving the worldwide network a shot in the arm has been a priority for Discovery Communications president and CEO David Zaslav since he joined the company one year ago.

The channel was down 9% in total primetime viewing in 2007, averaging 543,000 total viewers.

New programs include three entertainment-based series set to run in 2008. Groomer Has It, from 3 Ball Productions, is a competition for amateur and professional groomers. Whale Wars, from RIVR Media, is a limited series about a group that uses unconventional means to eradicate illegal whaling operations. A Year with Lions follows large-predator expert Dave Salmoni as he spends a year with the kings of the jungle in sub-Saharan Africa.

"We feel a little too human, a little too soft, a little too all-family and not powerful enough," Kaplan said. "We’re being more aggressive and tapping into the instinctual nature of compelling animal content."