Marketing

A variety of marketing materials were released to promote and bring attention to Princess Gwenevere and the Jewel Riders.

Below, a conversation with Greg Autore about the various methods used to market the show:

Jewel Riders Archive: Would this have expanded the number of stores or markets where the toys were found?

Greg Autore: What expands the product placement really is sales. If they had sold, more retailers would have picked it up. The show had very good rankings but it was not consistent. Robert strongly believed that it failed, not because of lack of viewers but because the viewers could not find when the program was on. They were continually getting contacts saying it was their favorite show but cannot find it any more. The people who were the distributors (Bohbot) never did their job to promote the show or even make sure newspapers and magazines had the correct information of when the show would be broadcast. Therefore, it never gained enough following since the show kept moving around and no one knew when to watch it.

JRA: Was there going to be any marketing or synergy promotions? Do you have any more specific marketing stories like the coupon or the giveaway?

GA: Marketing was usually the last function to be done on the line. They only promotion they ever created was hiding the jewel in the package. I would like to say we had a top notch marketing team on this line – but they were the weak link. (This was another reason I eventually expanded into Marketing so good product would not be lost on the shelf due to insufficient promoting and positioning).

JRA: Were these toys still targeted to the same age group? Or were you trying to make the toys appeal to slightly order children, fans who had started with the series but were now perhaps 2-3 years older?

GA: Typically, you can design a little higher level of complexity once you have established a line, but it still would have been targeted to 3 to 6 years old. However, if analysis showed that older kids were buying into it,, that would have shifted the target to keep the target audience happy with the product.

JRA: Were there ever any plans to make exclusives or gift sets for companies like Toys ‘R’ Us or Avon?

GA: Those types of programs are usually initiated by the marketing teams, which I have already described. However, to be fair, those types of deals would have been started based on a successful year one. Absolutely, we would have offered TRU some type of special set. (We created specials like that for Prince of Egypt but they were initiated by DreamWorks and not our Marketing team.)

Check out this quick bullet sheet that covers Greg Autore’s involvement in the line


One interesting piece is this sell sheet comparing Nielsen ratings of several girls-targeted 90s programs. Bohbot/Amazin’ Adventures apparently reached out to channels that might be interested in carrying the syndicated show.  They sent these sales sheets declaring that PGJR could deliver more viewers (as scored by Nielsen ratings) than several competing girls-branded cartoons of the mid-90s, including Tenko and the Guardians of the Magic from Saban (makers of Power Rangers), and DIC’s English dub of the Japanese anime Sailor Moon.

Or check out this marketing “Fact Sheet” with cool info like production budgets, target markets, and the location of the four Bohbot offices!

People who worked on the show were given this promotional messenger bag emblazoned with the logos for not only Jewel Riders, but the Bohbot and Amazin’ Adventures cartoon block logos as well! According to the original owner, “They were given to perspective licensees. They came with Jewel Riders binders, folders and I think the cards in them.”

 

Other products were developed to reach out to kids as well, including a series of trading cards from Upper Deck, a company known mainly for producing sports cards, but which would later go on to produce World of Warcraft and Yu-Gi-Oh card games.  These are scans of a promotional folder that was sent to card and comic shops that would go on to carry the cards.  The folder could apparently be used to display the boxes of cards in shops.

 

Hasbro/Kenner, makers of the toy line, had several lush pages in their 1996 Pre-Toy Fair trade show catalog.

These are trade publications used to promote toys to various other companies and licensors. The one we have is dated 1996.  We have select pages scanned to show you some of the other properties that Hasbro/Kenner was producing toys for at this time.  (Chris had several of those Gargoyles figures!)

Of particular interest to us here at the JRA was the jewelry set featuring a gimmick similar to the 1993/1994 girls toys called “Treasure Rocks.”  (In fact, it appears as though the “free jewels” included with the dolls are the exact same jewels included in these sets AND Treasure Rocks!)  The play feature is that the gems would come coated in a rock-like powder, and children could dissolve the coating to see what kind of jewels were included, and then use the stones to create jewelry.  Did anyone ever see these as children, or own some?

Did anyone ever own or see this jewelry in stores?  Let us know!

While the above Pre-Toy Fair Catalog shows the jewelry set that was never produced, the actual 1996 Toy Fair Catalog shows unproduced dolls!

The second wave of dolls were rumored to exist as far back as the days of Stormy’s Avalon site, but it wasn’t until years later that Chris tracked down a 1996 Hasbro Toy Fair catalog to see if there really was any truth to the rumors. It turns out that prior to the show’s cancellation, Kenner/Hasbro was working on a second wave of toys based on the S2 designs. If you’d like to explore these designs further, visit our “Second Wave” page for further information.

Take a look at these printed advertisements that shows marketing directly to video retailers and consumers.

And of course, there were television advertisements.  We have been able to find several for each variation of the show, including Princess Gwenevere and the Jewel Riders, Starla and The Jewel Riders, and Starla et les Joyaux Magiques.The toy advertisements are interesting to note for two reasons: first, the animation!  The characters are animated differently, more reflective of the toys than the cartoon.  The other surprise was recognizing the voice of Laura Dean (Tamara) as the narrator for the toy commercials! We have many more advertisements available for viewing on our YouTube channel.

The toy advertisements are interesting to note for two reasons: first, the animation!  The characters are animated differently, more reflective of the toys than the cartoon.  The other surprise was recognizing the voice of Laura Dean (Tamara) as the narrator for the toy commercials!

Check out this compilation video of 1996 TV commercials!

 

Or if you’d like to see a compilation video of the “Starla & the Jewel Riders” TV commercials, watch below.

 

Finally, included with the VHS tapes were small cards inside the sleeve that advertised the doll line.

 

When consumers bought the toys, some included a sticker that offered a free promotional video that included the episode “Song of the Rainbow” with purchase and coupon for a limited time.

 

The later commercially released VHS tapes included a card advertising a special rebate offer.

Family Home Entertainment, a division of LIVE Home Entertainment is releasing three volumes of New Frontier Entertainment’s Princess Gwenevere and the Jewel Riders on video. The volumes, each containing two episodes from the regular series, will be released on January 23.

Leading up to the release date, Hasbro, in an exclusive agreement with participating Toys ‘R’ Us, offered an episode from the program on video for free with the purchase of a related toy through November and December 1995.

A television advertising campaign, featuring a 30-second commercial for the toy ends with a five-second tag at the end for the video, is airing nationally on children’s cable networks with some spot buys. A cross-sell insert for the video will be included with eight of the boxed dolls in the Princess Gwenevere line and a cross-sell insert for the dolls and a $1 mail-in rebate is offered with all videos released in 1996. As well, a national ‘Watch and Win’ contest throughout February offers viewers the opportunity to win Princess Gwenevere videos and toys when kids mail in the correct code words from the show.

 

A fun story – some of you may remember a trivia contest held on the Amazin’ Adventures website during the original run of the show.  Friend of the site, author Lisa Dawn was actually a winner of this contest, and shared this memory.

Even though it was official, it seemed like a pretty small contest.  It was mentioned in an obscure corner of the Amazin’ Adventures website requesting the participant’s email address to enter.  After a few days, I received an email with five or six multiple choice trivia questions about various episodes from the first season.  Even though they were multiple choice, I still had to type out my answers since it was a text-based email, so I tried to be as detailed as possible.  The only question I still remember was which enchanted instrument Tamara was presented with in “Song of the Rainbow” because I hadn’t seen that episode yet, so I had to guess.  Fortunately, I picked the correct option of “a harp,” even though I mentioned in my email that I hadn’t seen the episode.

A few days later, I got an email back saying that I was a winner because I had answered all the question correctly.  I was a lot happier knowing that I had won than I was with the prizes.  Since there weren’t any details about how many winners there were, I can only assume that they gave a prize to everyone who answered the questions correctly.  They wouldn’t be able to do that today with the massive popularity of fandoms and social media.  There would have been an overwhelming number of correct trivia entries, so they would have had to pick the winners at random and offer bigger prizes.  At the time, online contests were more obscure, and I doubt there were many other entrants.

A week or two later, I received a small packet in the mail containing a single pack of Jewel Riders trading cards and a glitter pen with a monochrome pink stamp of the “Princess Gwenevere and the Jewel Riders” logo subtly placed in the center.  The pen was filled with water, so that the glitter would float around when you shake it, which was a very popular trend in the ’90s.  The pen itself barely had any ink in it to make room for all the water and glitter.  It ran dry so quickly that I was hardly able to use it, which is why I don’t still have it today.  I recall that it also had a long pink string around it so it could be worn as a necklace, but I wasn’t a huge fan of that feature since it’s a bit awkward to wear a bulky pen around your neck.

Overall, I was happy to have won, especially since I had to guess one of my answers, but the prizes definitely could have been better.  I seriously doubt I had many other competitors in the contest.  The odds of winning something like that today would have been nearly impossible.

Jewel Riders (and Princess Tenko and the Guardians of the Magic from Saban) was even featured in this article from the newspaper in 1995

 

Kenner French Professional Book

This professional book is similar to a Toy Fair Catalog, advertising the dolls to retailers.