Category Archives: Disney

And the Oscar goes to…

As the nominations for the 83rd Academy Awards were announced this week, and the animated film Toy Story 3 got a nod for Best Picture, I couldn’t help but wonder why a movie’s digital and interactive elements have not been embraced as award worthy.  This is, after all, the biggest awards show of the year.  What’s one more (in my opinion – important) category?

If “no toy is left behind” what about the digital toys on the Toy Story 3 website?  Don’t these activities, videos and games only further the movie going experience?  For kids, the movie is just one part of the entertainment process.  They want to keep consuming the characters, the stories, and the fun!


I Love The Fishes ‘Cause They’re So Delicious…

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.


This week I was introduced to Fred.

If you haven’t seen or heard about Fred Figglehorn, hold onto your squirrels.  In real life he’s 15 year-old Lucas Cruishank from Nebraska, but on You Tube he’s a six year-old Kindergarten from a dysfunctional family, with “anger management” problems and a voice that sounds like he inhaled too much helium.  As writer, producer, director, and uploader, Lucas Cruishank has taken the “Broadcast Yourself” tag line to new heights.

Fred launched his own You Tube Channel in April 2008, and today is the most subscribed and most viewed channel on You Tube.  He has over 800,000 subscribers and over 29 million channel views.  A typical Fred video gets 3-6 million plays.  Wow!  Again, he’s 15 years old.

From licensed “Fred” product (Cruishank has signed licensing agency, GR Branding, to manage) and an episode of Nickelodeon’s iCarly (iMeet Fred), to appearances on Disney Channel’s The Suite Life on Deck and The Tyra Banks Show, to hired promotion of Walden Media’s film City of Embers and placement sponsorship from wireless device company Zipit, Cruishank is generating six figures ($$$,$$$) .  A kid with  a video camera has created a mini media empire.

There are no barriers to creating content anymore, and there is certainly no creator too young.  The media world is a new frontier.  Like the famous quote from Field of Dreams, “if you build it they will come”.  And if its anything like Fred, its not only fans flocking, but the mainstream media as well.

For Real?

My boss’s children have turned into my most fascinating case study.

Over the weekend, Kate took Aaron and his older brother “Jacob” to see Disney’s The Lion King on Broadway.lion-king1 During intermission, Aaron asked Kate, “Mom, is Mufasa really dead?”  Answering honestly, Kate said, “Yes, Mufasa did go to heaven.”

Aaron then says, “No, Mom, in real life, is Mufasa really dead?”

Kate is a bit puzzled at Aaron’s question and probes, “What do you mean in real life?  This is a show, it’s only pretend.  People pretending to be animals from The Lion King.”

Aaron replies, “No, mom, I mean in real life.  From the movie.”

To recap, although Aaron is watching real human people perform the roles of Mufasa, Simba, Scar and other Lion King characters, Aaron equates reality with the animated Lion King movie.  The movie was his first experience with the brand and the characters, and therefore what he believes to be “real”.

Aaron’s situation is understood by an article from Phillip Nikken (Journal of Broadcasting Media, Fall 1988).  He says,

Young children make little distinction between the real and unreal on television.  They are more apt than not to see television as a part of reality than as a representation of it.

On a slightly older note, Kate’s other son, Jacob (age 7) reveled in the first act of the Broadway production of The Lion King.  Once the curtain went down and Jacob was forced to sit still (read: entertain himself) for the fifteen minute intermission he asked, “Mom can I have your phone?  I’m so bored.”

I’ll Take a TV Show and Supersize That With a Website, Please?

Like a Happy Meal at McDonalds, kids expect more than just a TV show.  They want their Chicken McNuggets and french fries and soda and Happy Meal toy.  Who could blame them?  As technology is capable of providing kids more than television to engage with a property, why not reach kids across all touch points?  Kids are supersizing their media experiences by consuming properties on television, online, through VOD and licensed products and at events as close as your nearest shopping mall.

Look at any one of the children’s networks: Disney Channel, Nickelodeon, Cartoon Network, PBS Kids Go.  Each network site has, at the very minimum, a web page for each show on-air, if not full-blown micro-sites to immerse kids in the world of their favorite characters.  And don’t forget about the little kids, the same web experience  is true for pre-schoolers.  Programming blocks and pre-school channels like Playhouse Disney, Nick Jr., and PBS Kids Sprout feature the same web content as their grown-up siblings.

While this may seem like media overload, especially for children who don’t know any better, just remember the Weight Watchers method of dieting: Portion Control.