Marketing to kids not child’s play
Jia Salindong Du, a 2013 Mansmith Young Market Masters Awardee (YMMA), is the country manager of Turner Broadcasting System, the owner of Cartoon Networks, among many other brands.
This puts her in a position to share her insights here on how to market to children.
Q. What are the latest viewing trends concerning children? Do they still watch television?
A: The kids demographic can be a tricky one to understand so we regularly carry out our own research in the Philippines to track viewing behavior and trends.
Firstly, our research (an ongoing in-depth study on the lifestyle of habits and preferences of children ages 4 to 14) supports what one might have seen anecdotally—that TV viewing is still incredibly strong and dominant—with almost all kids watching the bigger screen regularly—but we’re certainly seeing that video viewing online as well as via apps and streaming services is on the rise.
Boys and girls, of course, have different tastes.
For instance, girls’ favorite/top characters or celebrities are Elsa, Barbie, Sofia the First, Peppa Pig and Hello Kitty while boys identified best with Ben 10, SpongeBob, Finn and Jake, Batman and Ironman.
But what may be surprising to some is that there are probably more similarities than differences. Q: What’s the best way to communicate to kids? What TV advertisements work for kids?
A: We found that TV ads are still the best way to communicate to kids in terms of marketing brands in the Philippines. Almost two-thirds of parents ranked TV ads as the most influential platform versus YouTube, social media and online ads at 36 percent collectively, outdoor ads at 1 percent and print ads also at 1 percent.
Four times as many kids notice TV ads compared to those online. Kids also rate ads on TV as the funniest and most useful for finding out about new things, while ads on the internet and on apps as the most annoying.
Elements in TV ads that work for kids are: catchy music, humor, when they like the characters/people in the ad, and when they learn something new from the ad. Some of the ads that they cited as their favorite in 2017 were Bonakid, Downy and Jollibee.
Q: About a third of households in the Philippines have a parent working abroad. How do you think your various shows are making a difference in their lives?
A: People from all around the world have always loved talking about the latest TV show. In the Philippines, we are no different.
Luckily, our high level of English and our understanding of the US sense of humor means that we can laugh at the same jokes and enjoy the same entertainment as millions internationally.
All shows on Turner’s Kids channels Cartoon Network and Boomerang promote fun and friendship—but are never preachy, explicitly educational or mean-spirited.
We are appealing to brands because of this.
A great example of this is a recent collaboration between Dove and Cartoon Network’s Steven Universe to build self-esteem and body confidence in young people using mainstream entertainment for the first time.
Even on our digital platforms, we’ve integrated a more engaging way to push messages of positivity, confidence and embracing one’s own individuality through Powfactor.
Powfactor is a global initiative that helps kids discover the “special ingredient” within them that drives them to change the world.
In particular, it recognizes kids who have found a way to empower themselves and give back to their communities.
Q: What are some of the biggest untapped opportunities marketing to kids? What about the biggest challenges?
A: There are still many opportunities that many marketeers have yet to fully seize and don’t realize the enormous potential they offer.
For example, the 2017 NewGens report showed cartoons and movies drive family coviewing where 8 out of 10 kids prefer to watch these with their parents. Hence, there are significant coviewing opportunities between parents and kids that allow brands to communicate to adults and not just kids.
Another opportunity is that kids today increasingly want a lean-in experience to participate and get involved. This has shaped the way in which we as a network engage our fans and there are plenty of opportunities for marketers to work with us to do likewise be it encouraging user-generated content that allow kids to express themselves or going on line to help shape the outcome of a show.
One of the biggest challenges the marketing industry faces is ensuring that the communication is seen, and that engagement takes place in a child-safe environment.
This challenge is part of the reason why there are now stricter policies and regulations to safeguard the interest of kids.
Brands need to appreciate the real concern parents have about this and understand the root cause of these concerns. They should then focus on the values of their own product/service that are compatible to/address these concerns in order to ensure that their message is not just relevant but truly authentic and aligned with the sentiments of their fans (and their very important gatekeeping parents).
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