A conference on advertising to kids

Nowhere does the phrase 'the only constant is change' seem more apt than when applied to the kids marketplace....
June 1, 1998

Nowhere does the phrase ‘the only constant is change’ seem more apt than when applied to the kids marketplace.

In the two and a half years that KidScreen has been covering the kids industry, our pages have been filled with persistent and often dramatic change, much of it with far-reaching implications.

Not only has there been a broad reshuffling of roles and responsibilities among established players, but new faces and fresh ideas are entering the kids marketplace, bringing with them more competition and a whole new set of challenges.

This fall, KidScreen will be part of a two-day conference that will look at how these changes are affecting children’s advertising, the one industry sector that, it might be argued, is in the business of change.

‘We are seeing all kinds of new issues emerging in the marketplace that can, at least in part, be attributed to an influx of new players,’ says Paul Kurnit, president and chief operating officer of New York-based Griffin Bacal, a kids advertising specialist agency and a Founding Patron agency of the Golden Marble Awards. ‘Kids are being bombarded with so many messages, from so many directions, and with such highly stylized creative executions. The question suddenly becomes, to what extent are the products themselves and brand communication being overwhelmed by that bombardment? Are they only as relevant as the latest film technique?’

Kurnit, one of the leading international authorities on children’s advertising, will be the chairman and opening speaker on the first day of the conference. It will begin on September 9 and conclude September 10, just prior to the gala presentation of the Golden Marble Awards, the first-ever children’s advertising awards show. The Golden Marbles is sponsored by KidScreen. Both the conference and the awards gala are being held in New York City at a new facility in the Chelsea Piers sports and entertainment complex.

Conference speakers and topics will be finalized by early June.

The range of topics to be discussed in panel sessions and individual presentations at the conference will include:

– Advertising wear-out in the kids market,

– Case histories of long-lasting kids advertising campaigns,

– The importance of brand building with kids,

– The rules of using characters to advertise to kids,

– Creative trends (what’s turning kids on, or off),

– How and where to reach kids,

– Issues related to media fragmentation.

‘One of the biggest changes in the kids business over the past 10 years is related to media,’ says Kurnit. ‘And it’s not just about the growth of cable or new networks. Kids are now accessible 24 hours a day on television, radio, new print vehicles, in-school advertising, sponsorships, strategic alliances, premiums and promotions and a whole range of opportunities that simply didn’t exist a decade ago.

‘Kids on the Internet is a subject on its own-one that’s full of as many questions as answers. I like to say, `Yes, be on the Internet, but keep your day job.’ Obviously, the Internet is having a huge impact on kids and anyone in this business must keep up to speed with what’s going on there. But for now, Internet issues are still largely unresolved. It’s a medium that’s based on a print model. Consider the current language we use: `home page’ and `scroll down.’

‘As soon as big screen digital sound and rapid downloading video make it to the Internet in a big way, things will really change quickly. That’s the one thing we can be sure of-change.’

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