Greg Skinner (firstname.lastname@example.org) is a communications consultant for Mina Research and a marketing columnist who specializes in the kids market. He also admits to having an unhealthy obsession with the World Wide Web. KidScreen asked Skinner to do some browsing on our behalf and report on some of the interesting kids sites as seen from the eye of a near-kid himself.
Web sites are the latest vehicles used to generate interest in (and stimulate hype around) new movies. Getting a site to work effectively and to provide support in an ad-inundated environment is rough; even the movie’s stars only form one small part of what it takes to make the whole package attractive. Here are two attempts at getting it right.
The Space Jam site is the ultimate in simplicity.
In actuality, there is so little here, one has to be amazed that it works at all. Its stripped-bare, just-the-facts format works (at press time leading up to the movie’s release on November 15) by generating anticipation for both upcoming site features and the movie. Curiosity is king.
Once inside, your cruise has the potential to be pretty short, because excluding the embedded movie clips, the total number of screens are easily counted on one hand.
But the navigation tools are simple (there’s only one tool, and it’s big, orange and spinning). There are nice, big images, and the site gives you the goods on what the movie is about without spilling the beans. These are things that a visitor will be looking for.
Kids want info-as much as possible, thank you-because they are info hounds. This site keys in on that and feeds the little bits, like downloadable posters, that keep visitors happy.
The QuickTime videos are the site’s Achilles’ heel (they always are). They’re the only real interactive element, and if you don’t have the ability to play them, you’ll be a little bummed.
But the bottom line is that you’ll most likely keep coming back to see if anything is new. External promos in print and on TV will be a constant reminder, so this site has done its job.
This site succeeds at avoiding that unruly middle ground where you’re too small to be a real site but big enough that everyone knows you still tried (and failed). Closer to the movie’s release, this location’s neo-minimalist approach likely won’t cut it simply because everyone will want more. But for now, it’s all lovely.
overall rating: lessiz more (7.5 out of 10)
D3: The Mighty Ducks
Wow, this place is humongous! Welcome to the Disney site. Functionally, the D3 section starts off nice and simple, all of the links using nicely contrasted colors and easily identifiable icons.
The home page graphic is neat, with an animated view of a locker room. Just click on your favorite character’s tag and in a second, you’re reading quotes and downloading movie clips.
D3 site capabilities pack a wallop. There’s a cool little game you download or can use on-line that plays three-card monte with cafeteria lunch bags (fun, without betting away all of your lunch money).
An incredible search tool sifts the entire Disney site and pulls the 50 most accurate responses to your query (comprehensive and kicking, which is a definite bonus in this realm), and a help function retrieves you quite nicely from any bind you may find yourself in, like having trouble downloading videos.
What else is here? Contest winners who got to see the real Mighty Ducks play on October 16 at the ‘Pond’ in Anaheim. Accompanying this is a dense section of rules and regs; right away only parents tread here, as very few children will have the desire to read its numerous pages. Alluding to this fact is the United Airlines logo located waaaay at the bottom.
This is all very keen, but wait! Let’s not forget the kids, and should the truth be known, from that perspective the content is a bit . . . unleavened: the plethora of images and little movies run out of steam. Neither are exciting or full of action (although the movie is). And they certainly don’t give away anything about the movie.
The character quotes are fairly uninspiring, and with each locker in the same format, there’s little, if any, variety.
Some D1 and D2 history would work perfectly here, but it’s conspicuously absent.
When you consider that the lunch bag game takes adult skill to decompress and the movie downloads require mature amounts of patience to sit through, this all means that while parents are going to be busy, kids are probably going to be bored.
This site should be bangin’ because it’s a Disney location. You expect everything in here to incite huge riots of little kids, but it never hits top gear because it’s all a bit too clandestine.
Disney truly understands what works with the youngsters. Kids are the hugest fans, and they burst wide open when they can ID their favorite characters. This site simplifies the process to a science, but it d’esn’t give you nearly enough.
overall rating: thin ice (6.5 out of 10)