Kids channels bring alive superheroes with experiential marketing

MUMBAI: Kids have a special bond with their fictional superheroes that often calls for a reel to real life interaction. There is a certain charm about a Motu and Patlu surprising kids in a mall or a Chhota Bheem paying a special visit at a child’s home to celebrate its birthday. This is a bond, a charm that on-air promotions can seldom create.

Channels understand this well, and over the last few years have been very proactive in making their flagship characters larger than life and iconic for their fans. Activities can range from a simple meet and greet, retail activities, costume parades, to creation of entire fantasy lands to be enjoyed by the tiny tots at the channel’s expense.

“With our constant experiential marketing initiatives we have taken our characters out of television screens, thus making them a part of every child’s daily life.  A significant part of our marketing initiatives through school contact programmes, meet and greets, retail activities etc., are focused  at creating  memorable experience on ground for children with our toons,” shared Viacom18’s kids cluster EVP & and business head Nina Elavia Jaipuria.

Not too long ago, Nickelodeon and ABP came together with plans to give kids in Kolkata a chance to not only meet Motu Patlu but also engage at the carnival with loads of games. The entire City Centre mall was converted to get the look of Furfuri Nagar and kids got a chance to win super cool Motu Patlu merchandise as well.

Turner International, that owns popular children’s channels Cartoon Network and Pogo, has been known to reinvent the wheel for connecting with their audience through innovative on ground activations. In 2014, Cartoon Network organized the first ever CN Super Toons award in Mumbai, it was a spectacle to witness performances, cartoon characters and an audience of over 9,000 kids and parents.

For Pogo, last year the network had engaged the consumers through Bheem ka Fitness Formula and Mighty Raju Ka Space Station. Both the activities were based on highly relevant themes and proved to be very engaging.

The network also makes it a point to have regular touch points at schools and education centres or School Contact Programs (SCPs).  “Over the past decade, Cartoon Network and Pogo have been conducting annual SCPs that target students across the country with innovative and socially relevant concepts packaged around the brands. SCPs by both these channels reach out to over 1 million students across 11 cities -- Mumbai, Delhi, Bangalore, Hyderabad, Ahmedabad, Lucknow, Kanpur, Ludhiana; (CN only): Coimbatore, Amritsar; (Pogo only): Chennai,” revealed Turner International, executive director and kids network head, Krishna Desai.

For a very long time kids have grown up watching reading and playing with international super stars. Therefore it was a challenge for kids channels to have their home grown characters inspire the same awe that their international characters did. Solidifying the connect that kids shared with these onscreen characters and making them aware of the ease to relate with them was a fine way to do it.

In fact Discovery Kids revved up its experiential marketing in 2015 and heavily promoted its home grown character Kisna through it. In December 2015, the network launched the Discovery Kids Joy Express in partnership with Rapid Metro Gurgaon and so far over 3000 kids and their parents have so far come on board and enjoyed the DiscoveryKids Joy Express.

“The initiative includes many activities such as exciting games, art and craft, puppet shows, magic shows and a chance for kids to meet their favourite character Kisna. The Discovery Kids Joy Express is operational every weekend from 12noon to 4pm from the Sikanderpur Rapid Metro Station. In addition to this, Kisna has visited several cities across the country to celebrate festivals and other occasions with kids in that city. Kisna visited Jaipur in January to celebrate Makar Sankranti and joined kids in kite-flying,” shared a Discovery Kids spokesperson.  Kisna also regularly visits malls, amusement parks in various cities to connect with young audiences. The aim of these activities is to bring alive the on-screen experience and get children to meet their favourite character Kisna, face-to-face.

As per Disney India Content and Communications, Media Networks - head and VP Vijay Subramaniam, it is not enough to engage with the character but it should be within the world that the story is set in. “The affinity loop is very straight forward for us at Disney India. We are constantly researching awareness, likeability and favourites. Experiential is critical when it comes to driving likeability of characters as well as shows. We have proprietary research that we constantly carry out to measure these three attributes, which have shown that it is important to give an opportunity to engage with their favourite characters once that is established,” Subramaniam explained.

Disney took the third season of Arjun, its first home grown show, to the kids by having engaging mall greets that also included performance and kids were allowed to interact with their superhero Arjun in an immersive and fictional environment.

While no amount of marketing spends can earn an eight-year-old's loyalty towards a favourite star, channels are increasingly considering setting aside a part of their marketing budget annually for outdoor activities. “Though the plans are pretty dynamic depending on the need of the hour or our focus point, approximately 40 to 50 per cent of our marketing budget goes into creating experiential engagements for our target audience for both Disney Kids and Hungama,” Subramaniam shared.

On the other hand Nick usually sets aside 20 to 25 per cent of its marketing budget for on ground and experiential marketing efforts as per Jaipuria.

However creating an amazing on ground experience alone isn't enough for the kids’ channels.  Without backing it up with a well strategized social media and digital follow up, some of these events could turn into missed opportunities. Therefore each one the players keeps a ready social feed to take its experiential interaction online and create more impressions on its characters and shows.


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