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Looking to the frog

Sep 9, 2002  •  Post A Comment

Even the promo folks at The WB are beginning to believe that Michigan J. Frog is a little too busy sticking his nose into the business of stars at the network.
The wily, unabashedly showy Michigan J. Frog, a cartoon character created by the late Warner Bros. animator Chuck Jones for a movie short in 1951, has become a brand synonymous with The WB since its launch in January 1995. In fact, Bob Bibb and Lew Goldstein, co-presidents of promotion and marketing at The WB, have embarked on a new pre-launch fall 2002 on-air campaign-“Watch The Frog”-that allows the network’s stars to take pokes at the prying frog.
“The frog has been this square peg in the round hole ever since we went from expanding from a family-only network to a hip, young adults destination,” Mr. Bibb said. “The way we are now treating Michigan J. Frog is as someone who has been hanging around the [Warner Bros.] studios long after his heyday. All of the stars seem to know when he is hanging around and spying on them, but no one ever really seems to have the guts to tell him to bug off.”
In one of the more memorable of the 14 on-air promo spots produced with a broad ensemble of The WB’s prime-time stars, the cane-carrying, leg-kicking, tuxedoed frog is about to get a facial plastering by a golf club-swinging Jamie Kennedy, star of “JKX: The Jamie Kennedy Experiment.” That is until Milo Ventimiglia, who stars as the trouble-making Jess on “Gilmore Girls,” actually does a good deed by warning the back-swinging Mr. Kennedy to “watch the frog” before he sends the green-skinned menace into orbit.
“We wanted to make the frog as much of an enigma and oddity as the stars think he is,” Mr. Bibb said. “But we also thought his presence would reinforce the message to viewers that they should be watching the frog and their favorite stars this coming season.”