Fantastical, wonderous and hip is how Dolores Keating-Mallon, YTV’s creative director, describes the look of the print and on-air graphics of the specialty channel, and to do that, Keating-Mallon has utilized all that is weird and wonderful in the world for kids.
To assist in this endeavor, she has assembled a team that has married a mix of film-trained and graphic design-trained people. ‘It really does make a big difference on the product that comes out at the end,’ she says.
Staying close to what’s going on with kids is also essential for this hybrid creative team. ‘[We] go into video arcades. We watch where the kids are going. We read their books and magazines,’ says Keating-Mallon. ‘We keep all that in mind as we develop further into the creative.’
But, their adventure deeper into this world does not mean that YTV aims to be too irreverent. Well, maybe a little bit, admits Keating-Mallon, but it stops at smart-aleckyness. Parents are not dissed, rather, she says, ‘we treat the kids as if there are no parents involved. We just talk directly to them.’
The creation of about 20 YTV icons has also done much to facilitate the channel’s brand recognition. In fact, the 1997 YTV Tween Report, Wave 3, part of a multiyear national tracking study of Canadian kids, found that English-Canadian kids between the ages of nine and 14 had a 98 percent recognition of these icons-a proud achievment for Keating-Mallon and her team. Over the last two years, she has tried to bring these icons-a motley assemblage of lizards and flies that spit out stuff on air, skateboards and a manic screen-licking mouth, all emblazoned with the YTV logo-more in line with the rest of the brand. ‘We’ve gotten a lot more playful . . . so that we can appeal to kids’ imaginations.’ Add to that music and editing that is fast-paced with minimal scripting, and you get a package that, says Keating-Mallon, has really paid off.