Integrated Media For Kids

I am continually impressed at how youth oriented entertainment integrates a great diversity of media types and strategies with great success.

By now you have likely read or heard about the blowout success that Disney’s High School Musical 2 has had in recent days. Integrating promotional merchandising and retail tie-ins (300 products and Wal-Mart and Target distribution) is pretty standard stuff these days, but the Disney sponsored website and unoffical Myspace pages are impressive, as is the cast websites (Text ASHLEY to 73804 for Official Ringtones!). Even the wikipedia page is impressive. HSM was also the first full length movie sold on iTunes (recall that Jobs is on Disney’s Board of Directors). Radio Disney,, Disney DVD’s website, and countless international Disney websites feature the money maker made for TV movie.

I guess youth oriented entertianment doesn’t have to be urban and "edgy" after all… just well marketed.

A couple of weeks ago I was talking with Dan Gisolfi from IBM about stuff in general and we ended up talking about Webkinz, which I really did not have any awareness of. Basically, kids buy stuffed animals in retail shops to get a token which gets them access to an online virtual world for children where they can earn KinzCash and buy things for their new pets. The more attention you provide to your online pet, the happier it is. Since then I have talked with several other parents and they all relay how their pre-teen children are going crazy for this site.

Soon after my introduction to Webkinz I saw the news that Disney had acquired Club Penguin, the number 2 online virtual world for children. I am not sure what the analog is to the usual array of topics I cover other than to suggest there is something highly really compelling about interactive and engaging online marketing that draws you into an activity instead of simply getting you to click on a link. Entertainment companies have nailed this, the youth oriented brands leading the way.

The Webkinz site in particular taps into a powerful technique that successful social networking sites also exploit, the desire for recognition as a result of interaction. In Webkinz’s case the payback in a happy pet, in Facebook or Myspace the recognition comes from people adding you as their friend or watching your feed.

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3 thoughts on Integrated Media For Kids

  1. My kid got on Webkinz just last week. She likes it a lot, but doesn’t really hang out there much. Me on the other hand, her online empowered mom, got on there to check it all out, as parents should of course do with all the sites their child is visiting, and I ended up playing Go Fish with some none-year old for about 2 hours! I also watched the HSM2 premier alongside my child. (Well, I cheated some and was simultaneoulsy blogging on some political blog at the same time), and have downloaded about every Disney Channel-related soundtrack for her too, but she’ll soon be able to do it herself once I show her how to access the MyTunes library. Or give her the code rather!

    So I gotta wonder if online, social media savvy parents aren’t also helping drive the Disney franchise phenomenon? Maybe it’s all working so well because it’s simply good product that kids like? I just hope they don’t get slap-happy on the wild succes of HSM1 and HSM2 and start getting sloppy and just cranking really crappy, uncreative product out. Then their whole entire marketing machine could backfire on ’em.

  2. I believe social networking is here to stay and the toy companies are taking after Ganz and figuring it out. This isn’t just some fad. My kids have webkinz stuffed animals and they love to spend time in webkinz world after their homework is done. It is one of the only toys that they still play with on a regular basis. I have to admit that I spend a lot of time with them online too. I found that I was able to learn just as much as them playing the Quizzies corner. I challenge you to give it a try. You will be surprised at what you learn. For now this Dad’s not placing his webkinz for sale anytime soon.

  3. Yes, the Webkinz craze is here to stay at least for a while until the next big thing comes along. Being a parent of a Webkinz fan, I have to say these pets help kids learn some level of responsibility in a fun way and teaches computer skills as well. It also acts as a great starting point for opening the dialogue on safe internet usage for kids. I like Webkinz much like my son does, only in a different sort of way.

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