Marketing the Magic of Avalon

Hey Jewel Fans! We wanted to pose a question: what would you do to bring the magic of Princess Gwenevere and her friends to people all over the world?

This was the task facing the team behind Jewel Riders in 1995 as they began to launch the property across various media platforms. But twenty years ago, the internet was a slow, barely-functional thing; not the high-speed wonder it is today. The marketing team couldn’t rely on social media to spread their message. They had to pursue more traditional avenues, hoping that kids’ eyeballs would see those advertisements, and spread the magic to their friends.

Who better to begin with than those people who worked behind-the-scenes on the show?  The promotional messenger bag was given to people who worked on the show.  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.”

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Another tool used to market to professionals in the toy industry was a Hasbro Pre-Toy Fair 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?  Please let us know!

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.

Upper Deck folder - watermarked Upper Deck Ad 2- watermarked Upper Deck Ad 1- watermarked

In addition to reaching out to customers for products, Bohbot/Amazin’ Adventures also 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.

Jewel Riders - Promo Card- watermarked

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, so please check it out!

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

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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.

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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.

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Thanks for sticking with us, Jewel Fans!  You can check out more information on our Marketing page.  Have any experience in the marketing for this show (or being marketed to by this show?)  We’d love to hear your experience!

A fun story – some of you may remember a trivia contest held on the Amazin’ Adventures website during the original run of the show.  Lisa 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 Power!

~Chris & Ronnie

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