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Signs of the "Times": Two Major Newspapers Cover Phineas and Ferb Marketing Machine

Mobo85 June 21, 2010 User blog:Mobo85

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On the first day of summer, it seems that Phineas and Ferb are once again up to their old tricks, as it appears that their plan for the first day of yet another extraordinary summer is to be covered by two major newspapers on both coasts of the United States, both coincidentially with "Times" in their name. Some may claim print is dead, but even the techno-savvy Phineas and Ferb are apparently important enough to make appearances in the two largest city newspapers in the country.

Arguably the most famous paper in the country, the New York Times famously claims to print only "all the news that's fit to print." And the success of Phineas and Ferb is apparently fit enough to grace the pages of the Grey Lady, as Brooks Barnes reports on the show's success, which he sums up in three words: "the new SpongeBob." Comparing the stealthy success of the series to the iconic Nickelodeon star who similarly made a splash (literally) upon his debut in 1999 and is now inescapable, quotes from creators Dan Povenmire and Jeff "Swampy" Marsh, a Toys "R" Us representative, Disney Channel prez Gary Marsh, and fan Kirstie Barlow (aka BarlowGirl101/IAmThePlatypus) all show how the show is respected by entertainment and business types as well as fans (though a Nick exec also gives his own say, claiming that the spongey one is still on top). Mr. Marsh has stated he has been trying to grow the franchise slowly to give its fans a "sense of ownership" by having them discover it on its own. The article also comments on proposed spin-offs, including a series about the Fireside Girls and a talk show in which the animated stepbrothers interview celebrities (shades of Cartoon Network/Adult Swim's quirky Space Ghost Coast to Coast, perhaps?), promises merchandising including a monthly magazine and character-shaped Kraft macaroni*, and also shows Disney's amusing partnerships with professional sports, including the NBA and the Los Angeles Dodgers, the latter of whom have an amusing video that plays at the stadium showing off the code of conduct at Dodger Stadium, with a few rather...um...interesting rules added by Dr. Doofenshmirtz for good measure:

If you can help it, don't set third base on fire with your mind
Releasing monkeys in the dugout is not considered kind
Don't build devices that will suddenly make it 1889
Just file away these simple rules and we're all guaranteed to have a splendid time!

Over on the West Coast and closer to home for the Mouse House, Dawn Chielewski of the LA Times gives her take on the story as well. The story features somewhat more of the same, including quotes from Gary Marsh and Mr. Povenmire, but also features some quotes from Eric Coleman, an ex-Nickster who now oversees Phineas and Ferb, and a complimentary quote from Toper Taylor, head of rival entertainment company Cookie Jar, a Canadian giant formerly known as Cinar (and also incorporating the former DIC Entertainment). The article comments that Mr. Marsh thinks that Phineas and Ferb will be one of Disney's biggest properties in 18 months' time and also comments on the series quirky humor that appeals both to adults and children in different ways, given as an example an existentialist-themed version of Wacky Packages. It seems rather unlikely that the show's target audience would be aware of both a form of philosophy and a popular series of 1970s trading cards poking fun at well-known products, but that's the sort of thing that makes the show effortly appeal to all ages, just like all of the best animation.

Usually, no news is good news, but the fact that Phineas and Ferb is successful both as a show and a business- and that that in itself is newsworthy- is very good news indeed for everyone involved- the staff, the fans, and the businesspeople. Here's to a fun summer with Phineas and Ferb- and beyond.

  • Though not mentioned in the article, it should be pointed out that Disney is so sure of Phineas and Ferb's success that they showed it off at the 2010 Licensing Expo in Las Vegas, complete with a performance by Vegas icon Wayne Newton.

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