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Matt Gottlieb
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Compare the Looney Tunes brand with its pop-cultural contemporaries--the Disney trio of Mickey Mouse, Donald Duck and Goofy along with MGM's Tom and Jerry--and Bugs' decline makes more sense. Disney keeps its original stars alive as corporate symbols, while Tom and Jerry persist on Cartoon Network, presumably for its basic cat-and-mouse storyline. This puts more pressure on the Warner Bros. brand, especially after it WB became a piece of a conglomerate so it was no longer reliant on Bugs as a corporate symbol, to reinvent itself. Looney Tunes contain a tremendous number out-of-date references (its use of the 1890s as a focal point for nostalgia, its liberal sprinkling of 1930s, 40s and 50s catchphrases and heavy use of the era's Hollywood celebrities--think of all the jokes about Bing Crosby's horse), something that normally scares away executives looking to keep things current. Finally, I'd ad that the cartoon competition improved. It's one thing to persist against substandard 1970s and 80s cartoons with poor animation and repetitive storylines; it's another when interest in animation started growing beginning in the late 1980s.
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May 24, 2010