In 1976, Filmation had the license to produce Tarzan cartoons for Saturday mornings. Tarzan, Lord of the Jungle debuted with 16 episodes that first season, and it was different than many previous portrayals of Edgar Rice Burroughs’ signature character. Tarzan was shown as an intelligent and civilised character who had fantastic adventures with his animal friends in lost cities and strange civilisations, just as he was in the original novels. A lot of kids like me loved it.
Like others, I’ve been waiting to pick it up on disc for some years now, and Warner Home Video has finally obliged us. The release is bare bones: just the episodes, not remastered, and with no extras, but we’re happy to have them in any event.
I almost missed picking it up, because when I saw the package I didn’t realise it was this particular series.
People who have read my blog posts on design before know I’m a big advocate of understanding who your audience is and using design thinking to connect with them effectively. So what do I think they missed the target on?
This series has a very distinctive look and feel. Filmation achieved – for the time – higher-quality animation and storytelling than typical Saturday morning fare. It was also packaged well with title cards using the Tarzan logo then-current on the paperbacks sold by Ballantine.
All of that is missing from the packaging:
While professionally packaged, there are no cues this is the show we know. The logo is missing, the art is missing (save for two small screencaps on the back that are overhwhelmed by the other art and elements) and the general feel of the show is missing.
New art has been commissioned. Generic art that owes more to anime and Korean-style animation we see today. If I had to say why, I believe it’s because the marketing staff thought it would resonate with today’s young people, but that thinking is flawed.
From the young audience’s point of view, it’s a bait and switch. They see something they know, but the content doesn’t match. Warner gets the initial sale, but they don’t earn the potential good will of a satisfied purchase that would spur further purchases. “Mom, this sucks!”
From the middle-aged audience’s point-of-view, we have a hard time recognising something we really liked when we were kids, and we might miss picking it up when it comes out. That annoys us. A lot. Because we have the dollars to spend on stuff like this.
The marketing staff weighted their efforts in the wrong place and risk alienating both audiences. Guys my age are becoming grandfathers or we’re uncles. Does Warner not realise we want to share the good stuff with the kids in our lives? Just like I watched old movies with my father and other people older than me.
Unfortunately, this only comes across as a quick license money grab with the current The Legend of Tarzan film in theatres now. Low investment and dump it on the market. Warner and ERB Inc. could have built something more with this first season release of Tarzan, Lord of the Jungle. By increasing quality and attention to audience cues, they could have increased demand and excitement for other products. They’d make more money and we’d have seasons 2–4 to market sooner.
Putting my money where my mouth is, below is a cover that does all the things the existing cover doesn’t do. It accurately portrays the content. The buyer knows what they’re getting. No surprises. And it uses design and art elements from the show. The audience that knows this series feels the excitement of seeing an old favourite again before they’ve even bought the DVDs. “I remember that!” Always respect your audience, and learn to value what they value.
I’m making the cover available for download so you can print it out and add it to your DVDs.
Note: Print at 100%. Do not choose the ‘Fit to Page’ option. For personal use only.