YTV’s endurance and growth owe as much to marketing activity as to other parts of the picture.
‘There’s always been a strong marketing element to the station,’ says Susan Mandryk, vice president of marketing.
In its second season, YTV created what would become one of the channel’s hallmarks, the annual YTV Achievement Awards, which honor kids who have performed remarkable accomplishments in categories from dance to bravery to scientific innovation. ‘The YTV Achievement Awards are a real highlight for YTV in terms of what they do to raise the profile of kids,’ says Mandryk.
Two seasons later, YTV introduced program jockeys (PJs) to fill airtime between programs and to help develop an identity around program blocks. ‘The PJs create a real relationship and a real bond with our viewers,’ says Mandryk. ‘And they create a great deal of loyalty to the network.’
Initially, the PJs and other marketing efforts focused on air to build viewer loyalty. But a ‘tougher competitive market’ is motivating YTV to extend its contact with kids outside of the broadcast arena.
Last month, the Bust Out Tour kicked off at Ottawa’s Winterlude festival. The ‘traveling road show,’ as Mandryk describes it, includes two display units that will journey across Canada throughout the year to participate in and tape programming around existing events that attract YTV’s target audience, like the Calgary Stampede, or events hosted by YTV, such as the Psyko Blast fall season launch party at Paramount Canada’s Wonderland.
Ongoing efforts that have been a hit with kids are kids calendar events, beginning with Meltdown on New Year’s Day, You Rule March Break, a school’s out event, a return-to-school/fall launch event, and the ‘Dark Night’ Halloween broadcast.
These events are also attractive sales promotion opportunities for advertisers, says Tim Cormick, director of sales promotions. In addition to these events, sales promotions also involve events designed specifically for clients, such as the Nintendo Challenge last November, in which kids could win a chance to play new Nintendo 64 games with YTV talent during a vacation in Mexico.
‘The association with YTV provides the context or the environment of being cool and relevant to the target,’ says Cormick.
The next big move for YTV is to break into consumer products. ‘There’s an honest equity in YTV that kids love to have a piece of,’ says Mandryk. YTV has just announced a licensing deal with Hasbro (see story page 20), and is in discussions with licensees for apparel, software, music CDs and loyalty programs. The first products are planned for release in the fall.