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Programming Profile

Galton shares Cake’s winning recipe


Ed Galton, chief commercial officer and MD at Cake, showcases the UK-based producer/distributor’s new C21 Digital Screenings playlist and discusses how escapist content is vital for kids as they navigate the new Covid-19 world.


Cake’s C21 Digital Screening playlist comes as the UK government reintroduces stricter social restrictions and children all over the globe continue to face school closures.


With kids and families getting used to a home-centric new normal, children’s TV viewing has seen ongoing growth.


“Over the last six months, you’ll see that there has been a lot of consumption of content being watched on various different platforms. Ratings on linear television in the kids’ space have also gone up, so that’s been very healthy,” says Ed Galton, MD and chief commercial officer at UK-based producer/distributor Cake.


Ed Galton
Ed Galton, Cake

A veteran in distribution with more than 25 years in the business, Galton manages all sales operations, directly selling Cake’s growing content portfolio in territories including North America, Scandinavia, the UK and Australia, while also overseeing the day-to-day running of the company.


As countries started to lockdown, Galton initially saw a rush from buyers looking to fill their schedules with educational programming. “That was a very short-term band-aid strategy that a lot of broadcasters implemented,” the exec says. “What’s more important in terms of content strategy is having the ability for kids to escape from their realities. And it’s not to put them in front of a television and have them learn maths.”


Instead, Galton points to the first title on Cake’s C21 Digital Screenings playlist, Jorel’s Brother (104×11’ and 18×2’) as offering the escapism children need at this difficult time. The Brazilian animated comedy follows the daily adventures of a shy and nameless nine-year-old boy who is overshadowed by his more infamous sibling.


Jorel’s Brother
Jorel’s Brother

Aimed at eight- to 11-year-olds, Jorel’s Brother was created by and is based on the childhood of Brazilian actor, director, writer and MTV presenter Juliano Enrico, who also voices Jorel. Coproduced by Cartoon Network Latin America and Copa Studio, which Cake has worked alongside and admired for several years, Jorel’s Brother was nominated for an International Emmy for Best Animated Series last year. A fourth season is set to air next year.


“We’re dealing with an unprecedented situation where a lot of kids are having to be kept from going to school and, in a lot of countries, kids are kept from seeing their friends. They need a place where they can escape and laugh; a show like Jorel’s Brother certainly helps us do that,” says Galton.


“We want them to go into a fantasy world where they can forget about their everyday problems and embrace the fun they’re seeing in front of them.”


Tish Tash
Tish Tash

As well as humour and escapism, other common threads that run through Cake titles are strong characters and storytelling, as seen in Tish Tash (52×5’), the second show on Cake’s Digital Screenings playlist.


The preschool show follows the adventures of a young bear called Tish, her bear family and her larger-than-life imaginary friend Tash as they learn about the world around them, embarking on fun adventures while inspiring imaginative play and problem-solving in young children.


The toon is produced by South Korean animation shop Studio Gale, Singapore-based August Media Holdings, Philippines media group Synergy88 Entertainment and Bafta and Emmy-winning UK prodco Karrot Entertainment. Cake became involved at an early stage and was able to have discussions around scripts and storyboards, allowing the firm to feel totally confident about adding the programme to its roster.


“It’s a show that’s just a real fun escape from reality, which is something we really love about it. It can sit next to the likes of Peppa Pig,” says Galton.


The next title on the playlist also has strong storytelling at its heart. Total Dramarama, aimed at six- to 11-year-olds, is the prequel to the multi-award-winning Total Drama franchise and sees the original characters aged down into troublesome toddlers.


Total Dramarama
Total Dramarama

One of Cake’s biggest-selling shows around the world, Total Dramarama has proved a ratings hit for Cartoon Network in the US. Galton attributes its success to the skills of its creators, Tom McGillis and Jennifer Pertsch of Fresh TV. “They just understand character and storytelling and they’ve both got a great sense of humour,” he says.


With season three currently in production, Galton hopes Total Dramarama will sell for multiple runs. “I can see this going five, six, seven seasons,” he notes.


Cake’s values are important when partnering on projects. “It’s got to have a very unique visual appeal and it’s got to have a positive message,” says Galton. “Whether we’re producing, coproducing or picking up for distribution, shows have to meet those core criteria.”


Mush-Mush & the Mushables
Mush-Mush & the Mushables

Galton’s final playlist choice ticks all of Cake’s boxes. Mush-Mush & the Mushables (48×11’ and 2×22’ specials), a copro between France’s La Cabane, Belgium’s Thuristar and Cake, is a CGI comedy-adventure series that launches internationally on Boomerang next year.


The show was created by Elfriede de Rooster, with Galton praising director Joeri Christiaen for creating something that is visually extraordinary and has a strong narrative. “He really understands storytelling and comedic timing,” the exec adds.


The series follows the comedy adventures of the Mushable community. As pocket-sized Guardians of the Forest, each Mushable has a special gift. While Mush-Mush can communicate with nature, Lilit shines bright like a light and Chep has an impressive memory.


Cake’s slate is continuing to move into production, including two new music-oriented animated series. “We’re working on projects that range from preschool all the way through to school-age kids, a majority of which are comedy-led projects, some with curriculum on the preschool side,” says Galton.


When it comes to developing its own IP, Cake is currently working on two projects created totally in-house. “This is certainly a path we’re working towards, having greater ownership in the IP that we’re producing,” says Galton.


But Galton is still very positive about partnering on IP, pointing to Cake’s successful collaboration on Angry Birds: Summer Madness (40×11’). The company created the longform series concept, which sold to Netflix. “In this case, although we don’t own the underlying IP, we have a very meaningful ownership stake in the new series,” Galton notes.


For Galton, it’s important the positive messaging of Cake’s programming includes diverse voices. “That’s something we’re really focusing on – diversity of content and making sure we’re creating shows that come from all walks of life, that represent people from all different walks of life,” he says.


It’s not just representation on screen that is important to Cake. “We’re trying to give creators from all backgrounds and experiences an opportunity to have their voice heard,” says Galton, highlighting Mama K’s Team 4 (20×22’), a superhero show produced by Cake with Cape Town-based Triggerfish Animation Studios for Netflix.


Created by Zambian writer Malenga Mulendema and designed by Cameroonian artist Malcolm Wope, the series follows four teen girls who live in the futuristic city of Lusaka, Zambia. They are recruited by a retired secret agent still committed to saving the world. “That’s a show we’re hugely proud of that’s promoting diversity of content,” says Galton.


Meanwhile, Galton says Cake has yet to experience the fall-out from Covid-19: “Our business continues on its normal path and trajectory. From the production side, Covid has not had the impact that it could have done were we working in live action.”


But when it comes to his future distribution and content strategy, Galton knows things might get tough in months to come, “when budgets have been slashed next year because of the ad market bottoming out.”


The Cake chief also believes the knock-on effect of being unable to meet clients face-to-face because of travel restrictions and the cancellation of physical events will be detrimental to the business. “The fact that we can’t go to Mipcom, we didn’t go to Annecy or Cartoon Forum and we won’t go to Asia this year is going to have consequences for us and for everybody else in the industry,” he says.


However, Galton remains positive that Cake’s winning formula for shows, including those featured on the C21 Digital Screenings playlist, will continue to serve young audiences.


“The rhythm of deal-making might be disrupted, but what hasn’t changed is we’re always looking for those shows that meet our core criteria. And there is, and will continue to be, a need for really high-end content,” he says.

More programming profiles

  • 27-04-2020

    Ed Galton, chief commercial officer and MD at Cake, discusses the UK-based producer/distributor’s C21 Digital Screenings playlist and explains how the company is making the best of a bad situation.


    Cake’s C21 Digital Screening playlist comes at a time when children around the world are having to stay at home because of coronavirus-related school closures.


    As a result, linear TV viewing is on the up, with networks that have seen a dramatic slump over recent years now receiving a boost, while streaming services are also more in demand as parents busy working from home look to keep their children occupied.


    Coupled with the disruption to the programming supply chain caused by the Covid-19 pandemic, there has been an uptick in demand for ready-made children’s programming, says Ed Galton, chief commercial officer and MD at Cake.