Anime Push Aims To Drive 'Demand'

The Anime Network has enlisted a pair of retailers to further its drive for distribution.

As part of its "Demand Your Anime" initiative, the fledgling service has hung signs in more than 800 Waldenbooks stores and 385 Suncoast video outlets nationwide. The signs ask consumers to sound off to their local cable system about turning Anime into a digital basic or video-on-demand attraction.

"The direction of the campaign is all about one thing: eyeballs," said network president Kevin Corcoran. "We always planned to involve retail partners in our marketing and promotion.

"Having in-store signage gets the situation in front of consumers, the anime fans as well as a broader audience base," he added.

In Suncoast stores, the signs direct shoppers to the chain's Web site, which links to the channel's site,

In-store materials at Waldenbooks push consumers directly to Anime's site. Users are asked to enter some personal information and then see the local cable operator's name and address.

They have three ways to make their voice heard: by e-mail, via a fax that can be forwarded to an operator immediately by clicking a PC mouse or with a letter that can be printed and mailed.

Anime is also encouraging consumers to express their distribution demands via a sweepstakes, offering a Honda Civic SI, a home-theater systems and free cable for a year as prizes.

The campaign grew out of extant relationships Anime parent A.D. Vision has with the retail chains, which distribute some of the company's videocassette and DVD titles. Waldenbooks also distributes New Type USA, A.D.'s monthly anime magazine, which sells about 100,000 copies per issue.

In exchange for the valuable store space, Waldenbooks and Suncoast are mentioned in A.D.-produced home videos and DVDs, along with Anime Network appearances at comic book and animation festivals. A.D. releases up to 27 new DVDs per month.

Waldenbooks declined an interview request for the story; Suncoast did not return calls for comment.

Corcoran anticipates the "Demand" campaign will lead to a number of cross-promotional projects with entertainment retailers. "We're going to develop all sorts of avenues, including ads in New Type, graphic novels and the videos. The next promotional level for us is to be multimedium."

So far, Anime's cable carriage has been on VOD platforms, via pacts with Comcast Corp., Cablevision Systems Corp. and RCN Corp. systems along the East Coast. In Demand plans to use some of the channel's content on two HDTV services to launch this fall.