Thursday, September 9, 2010

Ultimate Synergy - Marketing Owning The Medium

The worst part of advertising are ads that are perceived as ads. Low credibility, negative relationship, and an intrusion on the content. And while adults are more savvy (we hope) to ad messages, children are not. To them, everything told to them is true. marketing to children then is a tricky process.

So what may be perceived as smart marketing may also be looked at as deceptive and disingenuous; that is the ownership by a toy manufacturer of a TV network. "Discovery Communications (DISCA.O) and toy maker Hasbro Inc (HAS.N) said on Wednesday their new joint-venture cable network The Hub, to launch next month, would target an under-served market of children aged 11 and younger." Shows featuring toys ripe for purchase have that air of credibility but unlike an ad, doesn't necessarily differentiate between fantasy and reality.

So what is the difference between a manufacturer that owns a network airing shows of its characters and a network not owned, but whose characters were licensed to appear on a TV show. Probably not much. Perhaps the key difference is the ownership factor. Promotion of the toy may be more important than the rating of the TV program. Hence a 24/7 advertising model. Thus, the channel can afford less advertising "commercials" as the whole time is essentially a toy advertisement.

Still Hasbro and Discovery may have a point that they are not the first to enter this space. "Hasbro Chief Executive Brian Goldner said rival children's cable network owner Walt Disney Co (DIS.N) is the third-largest toy maker in the world while Viacom Inc's (VIAb.N) Nickelodeon is the fifth-largest." In those two cases, the content came first and the toy making came second; in this case, the toy is driving the content.

Can The Hub be successful? At the end of the day, TV content needs to be engaging and watchable, regardless of the toy it is promoting; otherwise, it won't be of interest. And without interest, toy sales will drop. Make solid programming investments, develop good stories, and high production values and the audience should grow.

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