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Hot Talent: Beehive makes broadcast design dreams come to life on-screen

Toiling in the shadows of its kidnet clients and getting no credit for some of its biggest jobs, New York-based broadcast design firm Beehive has learned to focus instead on the satisfaction of a job well done. And in this case, says the nine-year-old shop's creative director and co-owner Ada Whitney, that means capturing the audience's attention and making a connection to the channel brand - all in less than 30 seconds.
September 1, 2003

Toiling in the shadows of its kidnet clients and getting no credit for some of its biggest jobs, New York-based broadcast design firm Beehive has learned to focus instead on the satisfaction of a job well done. And in this case, says the nine-year-old shop’s creative director and co-owner Ada Whitney, that means capturing the audience’s attention and making a connection to the channel brand – all in less than 30 seconds.

About a quarter of Beehive’s business comes from the kids sector, with Nickelodeon and Disney Channel as some of its top-shelf clients.

In 2001, the company began working with Disney to rebrand its Playhouse Disney morning block along the lines of an ‘Imagine and Learn’ creative brief. The project has been in play for more than two years, and Beehive has since delivered a broad package of materials that includes IDs, a break open and close (outlining what’s coming up now and what’s coming up next), promotional packaging (opens, closes and a style guide with how-to-use instructions), a series of educational spots, continuity menus, holiday IDs, on-line spots and interstitial packaging.

The key to effective block or channel branding, says Whitney, is a crystal-clear understanding of the target audience. Disney had been planning the initiative and conducting psychological research with two- to five-year-olds for a few years before it approached Beehive, and it’s shared all of these findings.

‘It’s a very unique audience. It’s a noncommercial viewership that can’t yet read or relate to many adult ways of communicating,’ says Whitney. So Beehive went with an organic, animated approach that incorporates real-kid segments, voiceovers and lots of music. In one educational spot from last year’s ‘Promise’ campaign (which was designed to communicate the idea of imaginative learning to kids and parents), one kid empties a milk carton and plants a seed in it, while another folds it up to make a boat.

Beehive recently finished a spot for Nick highlighting the fact that programming from its sister net The N will be joining the TEENick Sunday evening block starting this month. Next up, the shop will refresh the Playhouse Disney IDs and expand the ‘Promise’ campaign to show how a child’s imagination can spawn great ideas and take them to new places. These additions will start airing sometime between January and March 2004.

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