Warner Bros. Online may have managed to teach an old dog new tricks.
This week, the online unit of the Burbank studio is launching a new version of Web property Scooby-Doo.com, along with Looney Tunes and Hanna-Barbera sites.
It's all part of a strategy to keep the storied brands fresh in the digital era with an eye toward getting a piece of growing social networking phenomenon.
Think of it as training wheels for the pre-MySpace.com set.
Forget the sandbox and the playground, now toddlers to 12-year-olds, along with Fluffy and Fido, can hang out online with Scooby Doo, the cartoon Great Dane.
The re-launched site and its new content features are designed specifically for younger audiences, most notably through Scooby's Pet Gallery, an interactive pet photo gallery and social networking site where kids can post a profile of their critter and interact with others online.
"We wanted to go where consumers are migrating," said Sam Ades, director of brand strategy for Warner Bros. Online, who added the project has been in the works for about a year.
The Web site is designed to be kid-safe, since photos have to be pre-approved by site staff before they appear and kids can only post to other pets' pages by choosing from three innocuous, canned messages.
Though Ades said the properties "are evergreen, well-loved for decades upon decades," for a 37-year-old dog (and that's in human years) it never hurts to bring in new young fans.
In that vein, there's also a "Scooby's Playground" portion of the site, an area designed for preschoolers, providing activities that will introduce them to Scooby-Doo and his companion. To help ensure safety, no personal information will be gathered on the sites.
The revenue model is based on advertiser supported and sponsorship; Staci Miller, vice president of operations for Warner Bros. Online, said that several sponsors in the "packaged consumer goods" category would be announced later this month.
Also just launched is a retooled LooneyTunes.com site, with a variety of new features like cartoon icons and wallpaper, though it will not have a social networking component. And don't worry; grown-ups aren't being left out of the initiative.
For nostalgic adults who miss those early Saturday morning cartoons-in-pajamas sessions, Warner Bros is launching "Saturday Morning Forever," on Hanna-Barbera.com, an online video broadband channel that will offer two hours of cartoons per week, comprised of approximately 80 percent classic Hanna-Barbera shorts and 20 percent new, original content, starting next week.
Ades added that the studio has a "deep bench" of properties that could make the leap online in the future, though no other launches are imminent.
For reprint and licensing requests for this article, CLICK HERE.