MEDIA: Children’s TV comes of age - Marketing to children is often a complicated and delicate task. Harriet Marsh looks at the recent shift toward children’s programme sponsorship

Marketers targeting kids face a daunting task in the run-up to Christmas.

Marketers targeting kids face a daunting task in the run-up to


With anywhere between six and ten brands advertising per ad break on TV,

it is becoming increasingly difficult for any single brand to stand out

from the competition.

As a result more advertisers are looking at sponsorship of kids’

programmes as a way around the ad-break clutter.

Last week (Marketing, September 3) Toy Options announced a pounds

600,000 sponsorship deal with GMTV’s two-hour Saturday morning

children’s show, Diggit.

The sponsorship, which GMTV claims is the largest deal struck for a

kids’ programme, gives the toy company nine seven-and-a-half-second

idents per show and will run over 16 weeks.

The broadcaster is not alone.

Seeking links

Channel 4 is looking for a sponsor with over pounds 1m to spend on its

morning kids’ segment, T4.

Similarly, ITV, which has just signed Wella Shock Waves to sponsor its

new youth-oriented music show CDUK, is also offering several showcase

opportunities themed around its CITV kids’ programmes.

Ray Magness, head of broadcast sponsorship at GMTV and the man behind

the Toy Options deal, is clear about the advantages a successful

sponsorship can offer. ’A good partnership between brand and programme

enhances both parties,’ he says.

’Toy Options has made highly creative stings which complement the

programme well. Consumers understand sponsorship and kids are very media

literate these days.’

Previous sponsorships have shown the impact such links can have. A

Millward Brown ITV tracking study of the link between Nestle’s Hippo

brand and Potamus Park found a high awareness of the deal. On average

the sponsorship reached 43% of the core target audience: women with

children below the age of four.

Nevertheless, advertisers considering using sponsorship to reach

children ought to be aware of the peculiarities of this audience - in

particular the need for a kids-oriented agreement that adds value to the

whole viewing experience.

’Kids are extremely visual about how they take out communication,’ says

Nick Walford, managing director of MindShare’s specialist sponsorship

division, Vision 40.

This maxim also extends beyond the creation of the idents. Those

sponsorships which work best are seen as those which introduce an

element of interactivity.

Delicate deals

However, as with all marketing to kids, sponsorship of children’s

programmes remains sensitive.

’Sugar and confectionery sponsors are unlikely to be linked to

pre-school programming, although the regulations do not prohibit us,’

says David Prosser, director of sponsorship at Carlton.

Despite this, Walford remains confident that the advent of digital TV is

going to increase the attraction of sponsorship. ’When digital takes

hold and you can play around with how you view the monitor, sponsorship

is going to offer great opportunities, particularly with this audience,’

he says.

’The idea of knocking out a spot ad in the middle of Sooty is going to

seem very old hat.’


Brand                 Programme                Network        Start date

Pound Puppies         Diggit                   GMTV           Sept 98

Extreme Ghostbusters  Diggit                   GMTV           Sept 98

Dairy Lee Lunchables  Scooby Doo               ITV            April 98

Pritt Stick           Art Attack               ITV            Dec 97

Nestle                The Birthday Club        Cartoon Ntwk   Dec 97

Smarties (Nestle)     Watch Yr Own Wednesday   Nickelodeon    Aug 96

Hippo                 Potamus Park             ITV            Jan 96