Cartoon Network kicked off their National Recess Week today. National Recess Week is part of Cartoon Network’s “Get Animated” campaign, which encourages kids and parents to “get up and get moving.” Pepperidge Farm’s Goldfish brand, specifically Goldfish 100 calorie packs, is the week long sponsor of National Recess Week. As part of their sponsorship, Goldfish is promoting the Game Maker option at the Goldfish Games link at GoldfishFun.
Here is where I find this situation ironic. Just yesterday, I was at the movie theater and watched a little girl trip while over-eagerly running to the video games (the theater showing the Jonas Brothers 3D movie wasn’t ready for a new batch of viewers yet). The girl’s grandmother told her husband their granddaughter is so wound up, because she don’t get any exercise during the week.
Meanwhile, Cartoon Network initiated an amazing CSR program, Get Animated, to encourage kids to be active. They bring on Pepperidge Farm as the program sponsor, which in and of itself, is fine. Rather than pushing super-sized bags of greasy, fried foods, Pepperidge Farm is advertising 100 calorie Goldfish snacks. Again, Goldfish is also promoting their online website at GoldfishFun.
Goldfish Fun promotes being active in the Goldfish Games section, for example kids can input their own criteria and Goldfish Game Maker will give them a game to play outside or they can take the Game Pledge and print a certificate to show dedication to being active, among other things.
However, out of 7 tabs in the site navigation, 6 have nothing to do with being active. The seventh tab is for Goldfish Games. The site home page even shows a video game console and video games in the background. Though I commend Cartoon Network on the Get Animated campaign, and Goldfish for sponsoring the initiative, I am bothered by the Goldfish website. How can we tell kids to be active on a website that simultaneously encourages them to sit inside and play video games? This just seems like another instance of “adver-tainment” with a tacked on “Get Active” component.
In case you weren’t paying attention during the Grammys or Academy Awards, when Microsoft aired its newest ‘I’m a PC’ commercials, you’d see that being a Mac isn’t the only game in town anymore…
One of the commercial featured 4.5 year-old Kylie chronicling her experiences with Windows Live Photo Gallery. She downloads a picture of her fish Dorothy from her digital camera by plugging “this thingy in here”, makes it “better” with enhancements and sends it to her mom and dad, conveniently labeled in her address book as “family.” Say cheese!
Another commercial for Window Live Photo Gallery, 7 year old Alexa, engages in some slightly more complex behavior. She takes several snapshots of a fort she built in real life, is then “squishing alll of my little pictures into one big one”, and prints. “It’s all done!”
Hey grown-ups, you may not be the hipster Apple users, but Microsoft is not so covertly telling you, It’s That Easy. (Even a 4 year-old can do it).
Branded content – is it entertainment or advertising? Unfortunately, it’s hard for kids to tell the difference between an ad and content.
According to Cornell University
Children are exposed to more advertisements than ever before. The average child sees 40,000 television ads per year. This does not include the ads kids are exposed to during video, Internet, and product promotions. Advertising targets our emotions. It is often hard to resist that emotional appeal. Children under eight are not able to tell the difference between the program content and advertising.
At a recent conference I attended, the speaker referenced two compelling examples of this adver-tainment media:
The Corn Pops Challenge available on Miniclip.com . The game rules state, Play these super-awesome challenges, unlock the golden cereal pieces and win 1000 bonus points! So what are you waiting for? If you were a kid who stumbled upon this game, could you see the Corn Pops branding? Probably not. As adults, can you decipher whether this is straight-up advertising? Branded entertainment? Adver-tainment?
The Indiana Jones Lego mini movie. Is this actually a mini movie, a commercial for Lego, a commercial for George Lucas, Steven Spielberg, or Paramount Pictures?
These examples of branded content go a step further than product placement by making the placement undeniably fun and entertaining. How could kids resist, they don’t realize what they’re consuming. Heck, I’m a Columbia University graduate student, and I’m not even sure what I’m consuming.