September 4th, 2012
The Return of Tinky Winky Man
By HEATHER HAVRILESKY
New York Times
“I’m not really a dog person,” Kenn Viselman says, just before reaching into his backpack and pulling out a Tupperware container of expensive-looking treats for his goldendoodle, Jacamo. When a nearby Chihuahua barks shrilly, Viselman produces a giant bag of rawhide bones and throws one at its feet. By the time Viselman says he’s not exactly a kid person (“I like some kids”), it’s hard not to imagine him leaving the house with a backpack full of sparklers and lollipops.
He certainly seems to know what kids want. As the marketing strategist who helped popularize the “Thomas the Tank Engine” and “Teletubbies” franchises in the United States, Viselman has achieved something close to legendary status in the toy-licensing world. Now he has set his sights on making the local multiplex toddler-friendly. “Millions of young kids go to movies in America, but there isn’t a movie for them,” Viselman says, arguing that fast-paced, pop-reference-packed PG movies like “Madagascar” and “Kung Fu Panda” are too sarcastic and violent for children under 7. Preschoolers still represent a huge merchandising market, but times have changed since “Thomas” and “Teletubbies.” “Because of the volume of children’s programming available right now, it’s virtually impossible to break through on television,” he says.