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WB Prepares for Growing Pains

WB executives on Friday continued to push the network’s new strategy to strengthen its audience among 25-34 year olds. One sign the network is trying to grow up: the tap-dancing frog mascot is being left behind.

While pushing a slate of new shows that includes lead roles for older stars Don Johnson and Melanie Griffith, WB Entertainment President David Janollari told the audience at the Television Critics Association summer press tour in Beverly Hills, Calif., that the network wants to get beyond its image as just a teen haven.

“The strategy is to make sure that the perception with the audience is that we are a destination for that segment that’s 25-34,” he said. “I believe there have been so many shows that were set in high school that were successful, [and] I think that contributes to the perception that we were really a teenage service. It’s important for us to continue to reinforce that the audience who is 18-34 can come to our network and see shows that are relevant to them.”

Network Chairman Garth Ancier acknowledged the challenge.

“One of the things we kept getting back in research is that people in their late 20s and early 30s do not perceive the network as ‘for me,’” he said.  “We have always done well in the 12-24 range and we have not done as well in the 25-34 range. It’s sort of a guilty pleasure, or people just don’t acknowledge they watch it. We’re trying to crack it.”

As part of the discussion, Ancier and Janollari also confirmed that the dancing frog, the mascot of the network up until now, “is dead.”  Janollari added that the move was part of the overall network strategy to attract an older audience. “That was a symbol that perpetuated the young, teen feel of the network, and that is not the image we want to put out to our audience,” he said.

However, network spokespeople were quick to point out after the presentation that the frog mascot continues to be a part of the network’s presence, just not on air in prime time.  The frog will continue to be associated with the network, including as part of WB’s online and kids’ offerings.