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Chuck E. Cheese's Joins Cartoon Network Anti-Bullying Effort

Chuck E. Cheese's has signed up as the first sponsor of Cartoon Network's Stop Bullying: Speak Up campaign.

The two companies will work together to get kids to sign a pledge against bullying behavior. Kids who bring their signed pledges to Chuck E. Cheese's locations get rewarded with 50 free tickets redeemable for prizes.

Cartoon Network has been spreading its anti-bullying message for seven years. Adding Chuck E. Cheese's to the initiative will help amplify the message, the companies say.

"It is truly one of the most significant social issues impacting kids, and we hear this not only from kids but from parents and teachers," said Jill King, senior VP of marketing and partnerships at Cartoon Network.

Experts have told the network that its campaign provides the right messages and give kids, parents and educators tools to combat bullying. The campaign's message has been delivered by both the network's characters and by real-life, everyday kids who "model positive relationships" for viewers, King said.

"Now it was time for us to evolve the initiative by identifying the right partner to help us expand our reach outside of the Cartoon Network ecosystem," she said.

Chuck E. Cheese's was already a major sponsor on Cartoon Network and had worked with the Turner Broadcasting-owned channel on a number of marketing initiatives.

"We needed a platform that kids could participate in as well as benefit from," said Michael Hartman, chief marketing officer of CEC Entertainment, Chuck E. Cheese's parent company. "With bullying being such a significant social issue it was a great opportunity, because millennial moms are certainly interested in cause marketing, and their Generation Z kids are also interested as well."

Chuck E. Cheese's wanted the campaign to have dedicated TV support talking specifically about the anti-bullying effort. The campaign also appears on Cartoon Network's web and social platforms.

The TV campaign will employ characters from Cartoon Network shows Teen Titans Go! and The Amazing World of Gumball. Off air, the campaign will take advantage of the huge social presence of its show Steven Universe. That show's creator, Rebecca Sugar, "has expressed interest in bullying prevention and a lot of her stories tie back to the power of positive relationships," King said.

The kids' pizza chain will support the effort on its own in-store TV loop, as well as on its website, its email marketing and social media.

"Chuck E. Cheese's is a phenomenal partner for us," King said. "They really go behind this in a big way," developing original content to support the campaign.

"We had some dollars that were unallocated that went to [Cartoon Network's anti-bullying effort] because we felt there was great value in what they were providing," said Hartman.

The campaign culminates with a commercial that urges kids to get involved when they see bullying by speaking up or telling an adult. The campaign also asks kids to sign a pledge to stop bullying. Kids can print out that signed pledge and bring it to any Chuck E. Cheese's location and get free tickets.

"It's all about the tickets for young kids," Hartman said.

The tickets are a central part in Chuck E. Cheese's ads.

Working with Cartoon, a video was created to highlight the different ways kids do what the pizza chain calls "the ticket dance," those gyrations of joy after winning prize coupons. "They've been very creative in bringing that phenomenon to life," he said.

Chuck E. Cheese's has already been involved in some cause marketing. It is a national sponsor of Big Brothers Big Sisters, and at the store level it supports the Make-a-Wish Foundation.

But Hartman notes that one in four students reported being bullied during the school year and more cases are probably unreported. It's a big problem and Chuck E. Cheese's is pleased to work with Cartoon Network on this campaign.

"We have a common focus on kids and their well-being," he said.