In contrast to an otherwise gloomy and tentative atmosphere at this year’s National Association of Recording Merchandisers convention, held last month in Orlando, Florida, the children’s sector was brightly optimistic.
At a time when it seems half the music chains in America are either coming out of bankruptcy or hoping to avoid it including Musicland, the largest of all those involved in children’s products are feeling surprisingly bullish.
As an example, Walt Disney Records is launching its largest promotion ever, ‘Celebrate Disney Music.’ With a food purchase at McDonald’s, customers will receive premiums for three compilation albums of famous songs from Disney movie soundtracks at US$3 for cassette or US$4 for CD. It will be pushed by a major television and radio ad campaign along with in-store displays and point-of-purchase materials.
Announced on the first day of NARM at the Marriott World, the story created a buzz among the 2,700 assembled for the 39th convention. EMI ran a promotion with McDonald’s in 1994, which created a controversy among NARM member chains because just one chain, Musicland, was tagged in the promotion. This time, 17 various U.S. chains that carry Disney music titles will be identified in the campaign.
The promotion will launch in the summer, and will support the release of the animated feature Hercules.
Virginia Records president Joseph Messina is hoping that the next kids craze will be his company’s own Froggy’s Country Storybook series, in which a tree frog hosts stories narrated by country music stars. The two cassettes in the line to date will have 22 minutes of story and music, a four-color book and a color photo of the country act with Froggy, and will be available for a suggested retail price of US$12.98 each.
Even the troubled Musicland chain was upbeat about the children’s category. ‘Kids is probably the best category for cross-promotion and marketing potential,’ says Gary Ross, president of superstores at Musicland, which includes just under 70 Media Play outlets.
Ross’ enthusiasm was reflected all over the Marriott. ‘We have the category in all media,’ says Ross. ‘It’s a category where we are constantly doing cross-promotions or in-store events.’