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Special Advertising Section of Advertising Age

Nickelodeon at 25

special advertising section of Advertising Age

Its ‘kids first’ philosophy and ‘let kids be kids’ mantra drive the mighty Nickelodeon engine Cable’s No. 1-rated network blends comedy, adventure, news, game shows and original animation on TV while at the same time extending its brand into the worlds of film, consumer products, music, online, recreation and publishing “Our goal is to understand what goes on in the lives of kids, figure out what we can learn from that process and, hopefully, apply some of that to the choices we make.” —Herb Scannell, MTV Networks Group President and Nickelodeon Networks President

BY JOHN McDONOUGH he goal of which Mr. Scannell speaks has been fulfilled in many ways, as evidenced by the fact that Nickelodeon, now celebrating its 25th birthday, is in its eighth straight year as cable’s No. 1-rated network on a 24hour basis. And its quarter-century mark is a good time to take stock of this network and its accomplishments. Some key points: • In 1997-98 it surpassed broadcast networks NBC, CBS and ABC in Saturday morning viewership among 2-to-11-year-olds. The following year it seized leadership in total kids TV, broadcast and cable. • Its “kids first” philosophy is vital to the network’s business successes and diversification, which in addition to TV includes feature films, consumer products, records, online, recreation and publishing. Nick’s TV programming hits more than 281 million households in 161 territories worldwide. The network operates 39 channels and branded programming


“Parents are in the equation on everything we do. We’re looking to know their sense of what’s going on with kids.” —Herb Scannell blocks across Africa, Asia and the Pacific Rim, the CIS/Baltic Republics, Europe, Latin America and the U.S. • On its flagship U.S. network, Nickelodeon’s diverse blend of original series programming—including comedy, adventure, news and game shows and original animation (known collectively as Nicktoons)—has resulted in the network boasting 47 of the top 50 kids’ shows on TV. • In the 2004-05 season, Nickelodeon will launch 10 new series—seven on Nick and three on its Saturday

morning Nick Jr.—and will premiere eight made-for-TV movies. • In partnership with Paramount Pictures, Nickelodeon Movies this fall will premiere the “SpongeBob SquarePants” movie, which will be followed by the Nickelodeon and Dreamworks production of “A Series of Unfortunate Events,” starring Jim Carrey, which Paramount will release in December. • In 2003, Nick launched Let’s Just Play, a national multimedia campaign and grassroots effort to get kids physi-

cally active and encourage more positive, healthy and playful lifestyles. Partnering with Boys and Girls Clubs of America, the campaign allows kids nationwide to get active as Let’s Just Play Across America travels to different cities. • The Big Help, a nationwide grassroots campaign and winner of a Peabody Award, empowers kids to be community volunteers. Since its inception in 1994, this program has resulted in such programs as the cleanup of local parks across the country and other volunteer programs involving thousands of kids. • The network’s “kids first” positioning is buttressed by in-depth research that includes more than 200 focus groups of kids a year. Information garnered from these focus groups helps the network create characters and develop programming. “The best way to understand what’s going on with kids is to talk to kids,” says Mr. Scannell of his network’s kid-based research. “We learn more [from them] because they’re pretty honest,” he continues. “Kids don’t have a filter and will not tell you what you want to hear like an adult might who says he watches PBS all the time and 10 minutes later is talking about the latest ‘Survivor’ episode. Kids don’t have these pretenses.” However, Mr. Scannell adds that “Parents are in the equation on everything we

do. We’re looking to know their sense of what’s going on with kids. They are the gatekeepers in many ways in their kids’ lives. Parents should be involved in picking [the kids’] TV shows.” And clearly Nickelodeon is the network children are watching in ever-greater numbers. The network has a reach and influence few imagined a quarter-century ago when it first appeared in the then-relatively obscure world of cable TV as an experimental unit of Warner Communications, which was eager to make a national impact. In 1978, Warner decided one of the most formidable under-served TV audiences in the U.S. was children. It hadn’t always been that way. In the early ’50s the broadcast networks were nurturing a generation of baby boomers with a vast children’s lineup that included “Ding Dong School,” “The Pinky Lee Show,” “The Howdy Doody Show,” “Winky Dink,” “Big Top,” “Super Circus,” “Garfield Goose” and “Captain Video,” along with a variety of local fare. Kids were great customers and inexpensive to reach. “Next time, tell your mommy to buy…” was the approach of most advertisers, and the inducement might be a decoder ring or space gun. The Federal Communications Commission paid almost no attention.

Nick is born Then in 1968 along came Continued on Page N4

25 YEARS OF NICKELODEON 1979—On April 1 at 6 a.m., cable subscribers in Buffalo, N.Y., and Columbus, Ohio, tune to “Pinwheel,” a magazine program for preschoolers, which represents the inaugural telecast of Nickelodeon, the first all-children’s TV network. 1982—Nickelodeon offers educational fare with such series as “Vegetable Soup,” “Studio See” and “Spread Your Wings,” concentrating on learning over entertainment, and winning awards from the National PTA, the National Education Association and Action for Children’s Television.


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1984—Warner Brothers acquires American Express’ share of Warner Amex Cable and takes the company public as MTV Networks. Nick becomes part of a larger family including MTV and VH1.

1985—A&E, traditionally packaged by cable operators as a nighttime counterpart to Nickelodeon, vacates Nick’s back-end to start a 24-hour network. Nick then expands its broadcast day and creates Nick at Nite, with classic shows such as “Dennis the Menace,” “Donna Reed” and “My Three Sons.” Nick at Nite grows from 6 million to 23 million subscribers in its first year.

1985—Nick is relaunched with a new identity, focused on giving kids what they want, not what grownups think is good for them.

1986—Viacom buys MTV Networks. At the time Viacom also owned Showtime Networks (including Showtime and the Movie Chan-

1982—Green Slime, which since has become the signature prop at Nickelodeon, originates on the children’s sketch-comedy series “You Can’t Do That on Television.”

nel) as well as broadcast TV and radio stations.

sic, animation and puppet shows for preschoolers.

1986—Nickelodeon introduces “Double Dare,” and within a month, the sloppy obstacle-course game more than triples ratings for Nick’s afternoon schedule.

1990—Nickelodeon becomes the No. 1 network for kids.

1987—Entrepreneur Sumner Redstone buys Viacom in 1987, acquiring Nickelodeon. 1988—Nickelodeon debuts Nick Jr., an early-morning block of mu-

1991—Nick launches Nicktoons, a Sunday morning block of original animated cartoons to serve kids where others weren’t. Instead of creating animated series based on characters that were known from toys, movies, etc., Nick goes back to creator-driven animation. “Doug,”

“The Ren & Stimpy Show” and “Rugrats” receive critical acclaim. The network also launches “Slimetime Live,” an interactive matchand-win game that later evolves into a daily afternoon live programming block. 1992—“Rugrats” wins the first Emmy awarded to a Nickelodeon original production. Also, “Nick News,” hosted by award-winning journalist Linda Ellerbee, is launched and regularly earns higher Nielsen ratings with kids than the nightly news programs on the broadcast networks.

The King of Burgers congratulates the King of Kid Entertainment.

Happy 25th Birthday Nick! You've truly done it your way. From All Your Friends at BURGER KING®.


TM & © 2004 Burger King Brands, Inc. © 2004 Viacom International, Inc. All rights reserved.

Nickelodeon at 25

special advertising section of Advertising Age

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Peggy Charren and Action for Children’s Television, and the ethics of selling to children came under scrutiny. In the 1970s the FCC established guidelines, and many advertisers decided business wasn’t worth the hassle or ACT’s wrath. By 1979 PBS had become the national babysitter, and commercial children’s programming essentially retreated to its traditional Saturday morning sanctuary. So it was big news in March 1979 when Warner Cable Corp. sprang the announcement. “At last,” press releases and brochures read, “children’s programming that’s fit for children.” It was Nickelodeon. To Nickelodeon, “children” covered everyone from preschoolers 2 to 5 (“Pinwheel”) up to early teens (“America Goes Bananaz”). The channel debuted March 26 with a week of free service to let cable outlets and viewers sample the product. It ran 13 hours a day, five days a week, with 14 hours each day on weekends. There were no commercials. The subscriber charge was 10¢ a month, paid by the local cable franchisee. The first audiences were small by TV standards: 250,000 homes out of an existing cable base at the time of 6 million, according to Advertising Age. Gustav Hauser, Warner Cable chairman, told everyone that more cable operators would be picking up the new Nickelodeon service fast. It helped that Warner already owned 140 systems itself. It also helped that no less than the chairman of the United Nations International Year of the Child Commission gave Nickelodeon tentative praise as a “stimulus for commercial stations to improve the quality of their children’s … programming.”

Warner Amex new Nick parent Nickelodeon helped bring added prestige to Warner’s cable division along with new hope for swift growth. In September 1979, Warner Cable joined with American Express in a joint venture that turned Nickelodeon’s parent into Warner Amex. American Express, which had tried unsuccessfully to partner with McGraw-Hill Co. and Walt Disney Co., as well as several other companies, paid $175 million for a 50% stake in Warner Cable and a place on the ground floor of a new medium. Warner, in turn, got the respectability of a Wall Street blue blood that could help open doors to financing and government. By spring 1981 Nickelodeon ranked No. 8 among major cable brands in subscriber numbers with 3.7 million homes, according to Fortune, just behind CNN. But although 25% of American homes were said to be hooked up through 4,300 local systems, Fortune said, cable was still a mystery to millions more. Magazines and newspapers regularly ran basic primers explaining what cable was and how it would one day change the world. In 1980 all cable services together took in less $45 million, vs. nearly $5 billion for broadcast TV. But cable revenues were moving up.

the National PTA, the National Education Association and ACT. In 1982 Nickelodeon became the only network to receive a George Foster Peabody Award for its entire programming roster. If Nick didn’t accept advertising money, however, it was not opposed to spending it to build its audience. Research showed that kids tended to stumble on Nick while surfing. The network’s first three marketing efforts, created by Ogilvy & Mather, were targeted to kids through what children’s programming re-

VP-sales told Advertising Age, “kids wouldn’t want to watch it.”

Marketing Nick By 1982, with 10 million subscribers, Nickelodeon rethought its advertising stance. Ogilvy was dismissed in January and by June new agency Scali, McCabe, Sloves was up and running with commercials that made Nick’s case to grownups. They ran in the New York area on “Good Morning America,” “All in the Family” and “M*A*S*H,” plus CNN and other cable

“SpongeBob SquarePants”: Launched in 1999, it became TV’s most-watched kids show.

Peabody Award Nickelodeon took in nothing because it didn’t take advertising. This freed the network from commercial pressures to entertain constantly. Nick took the high road. Early programs such as “Vegetable Soup,” “Spread Your Wings” and “Studio See,” which had migrated from PBS, emphasized instruction and won the support of (and awards from)

mained on broadcast TV and in newspaper comics. They reassured them that Nick was available at no extra cost over the basic cable package. This might have seemed a message better steered toward the parents who paid the monthly cable bill, but Nickelodeon knew the mind of the child well. “If we had gone after the parents first,” Robert McGroarty, Warner Amex

outlets. Also, to increase revenue above the 15% that subscriber operators then paid, Nick began a search for corporate underwriters in January 1982, offering them 10-second IDs and a wider commercial latitude than they would find on PBS, although no products could be displayed. But after a year, only Quaker Oats Co. had signed on.

In fall 1982 Nickelodeon debuted “Lights, Camera, Action” with Leonard Nimoy escorting kids behind the scenes of movie shoots such as “Superman” and “Revenge of the Jedi.” Another new show, “Against the Odds,” profiled important figures in history, such as Winston Churchill, Charles Lindbergh and Golda Meir.

Green Slime But Nickelodeon’s early success with preschoolers and their parents brought with it a problem. Kids 6 to 13 were dismissing it as “the baby channel,” and Nick was not about to write them off. The program that brought hipness to Nick was “You Can’t Do That on Television.” A young version of “Laugh-in” and actually written by kids, the show was a strategic winner that not only began drawing in older kids but also introduced America to Green Slime, a slithery, gross-out compound that often drenched cast members who mentioned a specific phrase. In 1983 Green Slime became one of the early Nickelodeon signature items to be licensed for manufacture and sale in toy stores as Gak. This and other licensing opportunities helped generate extra cash for the network and its parent. For Nickelodeon and cable itself, a big surge into the mainstream came in December 1982, when TV Guide began including Nick and other major cable channels in its daily listings. Ironically, the success of Nickelodeon and the many awards it had attracted gave the networks even more reason to drop kids’ programming. Cable’s niche programming was best suited to Continued on Page N6

25 YEARS OF NICKELODEON 1993—Nickelodeon Magazine is launched as the first advertisersupported general-interest humor magazine for kids. 1994—Viacom buys Paramount Communications and subsequently acquires Blockbuster Inc. The merger brings opportunity for new partnerships—Nickelodeon books with Simon & Schuster, Nickelodeon SPLAT City at Paramount Parks and a Nick retail presence at Blockbuster, among others. 1995—Nickelodeon/Nick at Nite becomes the highest-rated basic


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cable network on a total-day basis. Nickelodeon Movies is formed in partnership with Paramount Pictures to produce high-quality kids and family entertainment for the big screen. (Nickelodeon launches its first feature film, “Harriet the Spy,” in 1996, starring Rosie O’Donnell. ) 1996—“Blue’s Clues” is launched and becomes an instant hit with preschoolers, parents and educators. The series soon has legions of preschoolers playing

along with its live-action host Steve Burns and his computer-generated sidekick, Blue. 1998—Nickelodeon expands again, to 9 p.m. 1999—Noggin, the first “thinking network” for kids, is launched as the flagship network of The Suite from MTV Networks. Noggin is a unique interactive network aimed at kids 2 to 12

from educational children’s TV pioneers Nickelodeon and the Children’s Television Workshop. 2000—After being launched as Nickelodeon’s first original Saturday morning series in July 1999, “SpongeBob SquarePants” begins “stripping” weeknights at 8 p.m.; the series emerges as the most-watched kids show on TV and quickly becomes one of the highest-rated series on cable each week.

2002—U Pick Live, the afternoon programming block, emerges as one of Nickelodeon’s highestrated dayparts. It allows kids to program the time for two hours by picking their favorite Nicktoon series online— while also tuning in to see unconventional appearances by celebrity guests. 2003—Nickelodeon launches the TEENick programming block, a Sunday-night destination for the

network’s “tween” (9-to-14) viewers. Kids are able to get up close and personal with celebrities who host each week, including Adam Sandler, Mike Myers, Jennifer Garner, Jack Black, Hilary Duff and Frankie Muniz. 2003—Nickelodeon’s first “Rugrats” spin-off, “All Growed Up,” becomes the network’s highest-rated premiere ever, with more than a third of all kids watching cable TV tuning in.

TM & © 2004 DreamWorks LLC

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children’s viewing, insisted broadcasters, eager to wash their hands of all but the cheapest cartoon series.

“Let kids be kids” “Let kids be kids” became the programming and marketing mantra for Nickelodeon. It may have seemed obvious, but it took four separate focus groups of children in Danbury, Conn., in 1983 to spell it out. “From that point on,” a company history says, “Nick was determined to take that simple idea and become a place where kids could be kids.” For all the attention, though, Nick’s parent, Warner Amex, still hadn’t made a dime. Indeed, it lost $47 million in 1982, and about $60 million in 1983. Not even Nickelodeon’s hot sibling network, MTV, had made it into the black. Then Sy Schneider, Nick’s general manager, announced the network would accept advertising starting in the fourth quarter of 1983. “We were a kids’ service,” Nickelodeon President Cyma Zarghami recalls, “made up primarily of international product, relatively low quality, and the tone was very parental. The decision to go ad-supported was really

“Rugrats”: The show brought Nick an Emmy in its first season.


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about our ability to put better product on the air. You make money, you can put it back into the business.” With Nickelodeon now in 18 million homes, a dozen national advertisers jumped onto the schedule, which allowed four national ad minutes an hour in preschool programming and seven minutes in other slots, plus one local minute.

Nick as a brand From the beginning, advertisers bought dayparts, never specific programs, although shows were repeated often enough that major advertisers were usually cycled through most programs. The rationale was simple and common in the niche-oriented world of cable. Nickelodeon was a branded product whose content conformed to the rigors and mission of a brand. All programs reached the same audience, unlike CBS, NBC and ABC, where the individual shows were the brands. Nickelodeon had no objections to advertising in principle, but it preferred the freedom to chart its own course during its formative years. However, financial reality was at the door, and Warner Amex had little choice. Nick’s

annual programming costs ran about $10 million, plus another $1.5 million in transponder rentals and other overhead and marketing costs. Yet, Mr. Schneider stressed that Nickelodeon would not be playing the network game in competing for ad revenue. Nick positioned itself as an alternative outlet in sharp contrast to broadcast fare. It backed that claim with “more original programming in one day than the [broadcast] networks have in one week.” Peggy Charren was not as confident. “Nickelodeon deserves every award it’s gotten,” she told The New York Times in February 1984. “I hope commercials won’t mean an end to that diversity.”

Ad money brings diversity In fact, advertising meant more diversity because it made Nickelodeon financially self-sufficient. And with profitability came interest from buyers, for Nickelodeon as well as for sibling network MTV. Nick had joined MTV in June when Warner Communications acquired American Express’ share of Warner Amex Cable and took it public under a new name, MTV Networks. The prospectus issued in June revealed publicly the financial problems the Warner Amex operation faced. Then after years of losses, MTV earnings zoomed to $11.9 million on revenue of $109.5 million in 1984. Business Week, in September 1985, said that it “looked like a skyrocket.” As for Nickelodeon, after a year of accepting advertising, the network jumped from a $3.3 million loss in 1983 to $3.9 million in operating income for 1984. And Nick also had an impact on how advertisers targeted kids. “I think they spent more time trying to understand kids,” says Mr. Scannell of the network’s influence on advertisers. “Some great spots have been made. Most recently, [there’s] the Embassy Suites

spot about a kid in a hotel room. It was well done because it understood that they way a kid looks at a hotel room is very different from the way an adult does. They had a kid playing with a shower cap and jumping on a pull-out bed. They were trying to reach an audience that was on Nickelodeon. Mitsubishi did one that was about the movement toward DVD players in cars in which the sound track is broken up with ‘SpongeBob’ songs.”

Relaunching Nick Nick set out to redefine its mission. It had built its early reputation and won prestige largely by providing the sort of kids program parents approved of. Now it would move more to the child’s point of view and focus on what they wanted. It would stop being a “children’s” network and become a “kids’” network. It followed that the Nickelodeon brand needed updating as well. So Nick turned to the same creative team that had helped make the MTV name what it was—Fred Seibert and Alan Goodman. They in turn brought in fresh music specialists and designer Tom Corey, who created a new Nickelodeon logo: a changing orange shape expressing the range of a child’s imagination. It was introduced in January 1985 with much fanfare in a move that Nick’s corporate history describes as a “relaunch” of the Nickelodeon network. In May 1985 Nickelodeon expanded to a 24-hour schedule, offering advertisers a broader inventory of time. With an audience of 25 million, Nick began to reach past its traditional 8 p.m. programming curfew, scheduling reruns of family sitcoms from the ’50s and ’60s, among them “Dennis the Menace,” “The Donna Reed Show” and “My Three Sons.” The idea wasn’t necessarily to reach more kids but to create a transitional period in which parents and kids could have a shared viewing experience. Nick at Nite, as it became known, was as much a gift to parents; a nostalgic reward to those who recalled shows from their own childhoods. Warner, however, was eager to leave the cable business in

exchange for an infusion of cash. After talks with one buyer collapsed, Viacom International, which already had a stake in Warner’s Showtime/The Movie Channel, stepped in. Launched in 1970 as a small syndication spin-off of CBS, Viacom had grown into the country’s No. 11 cable company. Its president, Terrance Elkes, was eager to make it a major force. He believed Warner’s cable assets could be the key. In November 1985 he paid $694 million for the MTV Network package, and Nickelodeon and the MTV family had a new parent.

Nick gets sassy But Viacom soon went into play, resulting in a bidding battle between an inside management group headed by Mr. Elkes and National Amusements, a theater chain owned by Sumner Redstone. Mr. Redstone, who had acquired 19.6% of Viacom, made an initial offer of $2.1 billion but ended up paying about $3.4 billion in March. Little of this materially affected Nickelodeon, its mission or its people, who continued merrily about the business of kids TV. “Revolutionary,” columnist Cathleen Schine called it in The New York Times Magazine in 1988, “for it has changed the way people regard … children’s television [and transformed] it into an experimental genre.” The broadcast networks were essentially focused on adults. The political paranoia over TV violence emptied children’s program content of any reality or believability. Even the old Fess Parker Daniel Boone films were verboten on ABC. School-age kids felt patronized. Nick, unlike broadcasters, was not answerable to the FCC; but it did not embrace violence. It embraced something the networks perhaps feared more: irreverence and sass. Nick’s core audience of preschoolers was not the issue. Starting in 1988, the network officially designated the morning time block as Nick Jr. with the launch of “Eureeka’s Castle,” a mix of cartoons and puppets for the very young. To get the kids in the 6-to-13 age group to watch after school and through the early evening, Continued on Page N8

Cheers from everyone at Fisher-Price to our colleagues at Nickelodeon for 25 years of putting kids first.

Š 2004 Fisher-Price Inc., a subsidiary of Mattel, Inc.

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special advertising section of Advertising Age

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Nick President Geraldine Laybourne said in many interviews that the first message had to be, “We’re on your side,” even when it meant getting laughs with burps and flatulence, especially from adults. “Geraldine was deeply passionate about being a kids advocate,” Ms. Zarghami says. “She laid a great foundation of caring and of the spirit with which we went about our work. She had an appetite for innovation and loved break-

ing rules and winning.” By 1990 Nick had become the No. 1 network for kids. Still, millions had not heard of it, though it was in 52 million homes and had a bigger children’s audience that the three broadcast networks combined. In 1993 Nickelodeon’s then head of consumer products, Anne Kreamer, got the go-ahead to transfer Nick’s sassy TV sensibility to print. The result was Nickelodeon Magazine. Still edited by Laura Galen

and headed by Group Publisher Dan Sullivan, the magazine originally was published every two months and, after 1994, monthly, starting with a paid circulation base of 150,000. “Humor with a bite,” Advertising Age called the first issue, and “something to offend every adult.” With an editorial staff drawn from National Lampoon, “Saturday Night Live” and Details, the magazine’s fare varied from cover art of Nick animated characters Ren and

Stimpy as swimsuit models to recipes for bologna milkshakes. Nickelodeon Magazine was never intended as an extension of or a companion to its TV sibling. It was created as a freestanding, ad-supported humor book that could be enjoyed by non-Nick viewers. Today it is the No. 1 book of its kind in the 6-to-14 readership niche with 6 million readers. In 1999 Mr. Sullivan extended the magazine group further, launching Nick Jr.

Family Magazine, headed by Editor Freddie Greenberg, with a focus on providing parents of children up to 11 years old with the latest information on child development, news and family products. The magazine now has a readership base of 5.5 million.

Going online In 1995 Nick expanded into online media by opening a hub on AOL, first for Nick at Nite in July, then for Nickelodeon in August. With every major children’s packager going online, Nick promised and delivered new levels of depth and interaction, including frequent online events, real-time chat lines, contests and frequent polling. A Nick Web site followed in 1996. The online sponsorships went for $15,000 a month with a three-month minimum buy. It was all aggressively promoted not only on all the available Nickelodeon platforms but on MTV and through AOL as well. Nick grew in other directions in the ’90s, some unexContinued on Page N10

Nickelodeon Trivia • “Rugrats” received a star on Hollywood’s Walk of Fame in July 2001. • Nickelodeon Magazine receives about 7,000 pieces of mail a month. • “Dora the Explorer” executive producer and co-creator Chris Gifford was a child actor who appeared on the TV show “The Great Space Coaster.” • “U-Pick Life” co-host Candace Bailey was a Junior Olympic gymnast. • At the 2003 Kids’ Choice Awards, pro skateboard champion Tony Hawk landed in an 11,000-gallon tank of Nickelodeon’s signature green slime. • Macy Gray sings the theme song for “As Told by Ginger.” • Nickelodeon was the first network to win a Peabody Award for overall excellence. • Alanis Morisette, James Van Der Beek, Melissa Joan Hart and Larissa Oleynik all have appeared as cast members in Nickelodeon series. • Gak was Nickelodeon’s first licensed product and became one of the top-selling toys of 1993. • Jamie Lee Spears gets the most mail of the “All That!” cast. Fans also use this opportunity to slip in a note for sister Britney. N8

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Happy 25th Anniversary, Nickelodeon. From your friends at General Mills and ZenithGPE.

Nickelodeon at 25

special advertising section of Advertising Age

‘Sliming’ the famous Celebrities who have been “slimed” on Nickelodeon include Tom Cruise, Jim Carrey, Adam Sandler, Will Smith, Rosie O’Donnell, Steven Spielberg, James Earl Jones, N’Sync, Joe Namath and Queen Latifa. Only one person has been slimed in hot pink slime—pop star Pink.

Left to right: N’Sync, Jim Carrey, Adam Sandler, Tom Cruise and Rosie O’Donnell, Pink

Continued from Page N8

pected. In June 1990 it opened a TV studio, complete with its own Green Slime Geyser, in the Universal Studios theme park in Orlando, Fla. In 1991, Nickelodeon broke into original animation with a Sunday morning block of cartoons that, unlike much of what was on TV at that time, were not based on any presold toy or idea.

“Rugrats” Out of the Nicktoons experiment sprang three original cartoons: “Ren & Stimpy,” “Rugrats” and “Doug.” “Rugrats” brought Nick its first Emmy in the program’s first season. The show became so popular it helped lay the foundation for Nickelodeon’s penetration into motion pictures through Paramount Pictures, which Viacom acquired in 1994. Nick’s first partnerships with Paramount were small pictures such as “Harriet the Spy” and “Good Burger.” The first of the “Rugrats” films hit in November 1998 and become the first non-Disney animated feature to break the $100 million mark. Licensing, which as recently as a decade before had muddled along marketing’s low district, exploded when Hollywood startled even itself by sustaining and growing the initial “Star Wars” product phenomenon. It quickly spread to sports. With its young audience and growing gallery of characters and gadgets, Nick was perfectly positioned to become a breakthrough force in licensing. Making it so became the job of Jeff Dunn, who came to Nick in 1993 and became president of Nickelodeon EnN10

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terprises in 1996 (see story on Page N18). Early in 1996 Nick President Ms. Laybourne moved to head of the Disney/ABC Cable Network. Herb Scannell assumed the presidency of Nickelodeon that February, having joined the network as director of programming in 1988 (see story on Page N10). In 1994 annual revenue had grown by a whopping 45% over 1993 to $216 million, by far the biggest leap among the top 10 cable nets.

TV Land, Noggin launch Mr. Scannell quickly put his imprint on the network with the launch of TV Land, a 24hour extension of the Nick at Nite concept. TV Land deepened the network’s reputation for classic TV by rerunning such beloved titles as “Sergeant Bilko,” “Our Miss Brooks,” “Alfred Hitchcock Presents” and “My Little Margie.” With the advent of the digital age, Nickelodeon forged a partnership with the Children’s Television Workshop in 1998 to launch Noggin, a 24hour commercial-free educational network, which served as one of the flagship channels for MTV Networks’ Digital Suite. In 2002 Nickelodeon acquired full ownership of the network and took a page from its earlier Nick at Nite strategy by launching the N, a nighttime programming block for “tweens” and teens beginning daily at 6 p.m., on the back end of Noggin in 2003. The bifurcated network is now seen in 40 million homes in the U.S. As it developed over the next three years, Noggin be-

came an interactive network focused on kids interested in learning “by creating a space on television and online where learning is driven by them,” according to Nick. Introduced in February 1998 as the flagship of MTV Network’s The Suite, it became what Nick called “the first ever thinking network for kids.”

Nick Animation Studio Mr. Scannell’s first year saw a 15% ratings increase and upfront sales in February 1997 approaching $285 million, a 30% increase over the previous season. With 56% of the kids audience, Nick finished the millennium still on the cutting edge and securely on top. To secure the best animation skills in-house, Mr. Scannell persuaded Viacom to invest $350 million in construction of Nick’s own animation studio complex in Burbank, Calif. Up and running before the end of the ’90s, it soon turned out Nick’s biggest hit of the new century, “SpongeBob.” Nickelodeon unveiled “SpongeBob SquarePants” to 9 million kids in a preview spot after the Kids’ Choice Awards in April 1999. By July an in-house-created promotional campaign was ready to hit the road selling a talking sea sponge that lived in a converted pineapple deep under water. Senior Nick executives knew they had solid franchise potential beyond TV with all the usual extension adornments, but nobody knew Nick had what Mr. Scannell calls “lightning in a bottle.” “The ‘SpongeBob’ story really was about this groundswell that started to

happen,” Mr. Scannell recalls. “We got a letter from Target [Corp.], which wanted to do an exclusive promotion [at a time] when Target was trying to establish itself as the hippest of the retailers. So we started to get a sense that there was a buzz going on, and that there was something different about this show. A lot of that has to do with the creative people who are behind the shows and not any kind of executive decision.”

Programs CBS kids shows When Viacom acquired CBS in March 2000, Nick found itself with a formidable corporate colleague with clear areas for partnerships. Nick Jr. took over both the selling and programming of the network’s three-hour Saturday morning kids lineup. But when the shift to Nickelodeon from CBS came quickly during a period of a soft kids ad market, Nick Jr. suspended sales for six months. Commercials resumed in the Saturday segment in February 2001, and Nick continues to sell and program the CBS children’s lineup. Today Nick sorts out kids as much by psychographics and taste as by age, but age remains the most easily measured. According to Ms. Zarghami, 2-to-5-year-olds account for about 30% of Nick’s audience; 6-to-11-yearolds, 30%; and “tweens” (the 9-to-14 group) around 20%. The rest is adults. In covering these audience subgroups, the word one hears most at Nick is “diversity,” a concept reflected in programs such as “Dora the Explorer,” “Taina” and “The Brothers Garcia,” which Nick

claims as a TV landmark— the first English-language sitcom with an all-Latino cast and creative team. Casts of all Nick shows routinely reflect not only the usual ethnic and racial mix but also a diversity in dress, weight, body type and gender roles. Even disability is included: In 2000 Nick launched “Pelswick,” a cartoon series about a wheelchair-bound 13-year-old. The show was created by author and cartoonist John Callahan, himself a quadriplegic. In recent years the company has looked more carefully into programming beyond the established Nick Jr. and Nickelodeon segments to targeting the tweens. In March 2001 it entered a joint venture with Procter & Gamble Co., Coca-Cola Co. and others in a Sunday evening programming block, TEENick. The mix of animation, music and live action shows carried something Nick had never offered advertisers: ratings guarantees in their desired demographics. Talk to many senior Nickelodeon executives today and they will tell you that the network’s 25th anniversary is a turning point. As Herb Scannell says, “The generation that grew up with Nickelodeon is now having kids themselves. So you have the coming of age of the first Nickelodeon generation, [which] is going to start having a shared experience with their own children. Now the relationship over time is going to broaden enormously.” And he stresses that the goal continues to be that “Nickelodeon stay true to the brand, which is a specialized relationship with kids.” ■




Nickelodeon at 25

special advertising section of Advertising Age

Keeping up with the ever-changing world of kids Nickelodeon President Cyma Zarghami talks about the challenges—and excitement—of guiding the No. 1 children’s network In January Cyma Zarghami was promoted from general manager to president of Nickelodeon Television, a post whose authority covers, in addition to Nick TV, the company’s Noggin/The N digital channel, Nickelodeon Games & Sports and Nicktoons. A 17-year veteran of Nickelodeon, Ms. Zarghami played key roles in the programming of major Nick shows, including such recent successes as “Fairly OddParents” and “Dora the Explorer,” the No. 1 preschool program in viewership in commercial TV. Ms. Zarghami was interviewed by John McDonough. Ad Age: You’ve just become president of Nickelodeon Television. What is your goal for the future of Nick? Do you have a clear vision of where it can go from here?

Cyma Zarghami: “Nickelodeon [is] a brand that withstands the generation changeover.”

generation of viewers and stay in this leadership position as the next generation comes through. As we get affirmation from the parents of that generation, we will be able to not miss a beat the way [Walt Disney Co.] missed a beat. There was a time when Disney was a family brand with a lot of equity with adults who were raised on it. But it had absolutely no equity with the next generation. They have since corrected that, and they are starting to get some equity back. For us at Nickelodeon, it will be really exciting to become a brand that withstands the generation changeover.

Ms. Zarghami: Yes. We are on the eve of the first generation of Nick viewers being parents of a Nickelodeon audience. The first Nickelodeon

Ad Age: Is Nick’s leadership across all demographics— racial, economic, etc? Ms. Zarghami: Yes. We are uniformly strong across the

viewer was 11 years old in 1980 and is now the parent of perhaps a 6 year-old. What’s really exciting to me is being able to transition a whole

board, and we pay a lot of attention to shifts in the country’s demographics. Our goal is a diversity that always reflects the changing face of the kids’ world. Kids are fundamentally the same as they’ve always been. But the world they’re living in is vastly different—single-parent homes, two incomes with no one home after school. It’s all very different, and we have to address that. Ad Age: Children live in a world kept secret from parents. How does Nick get into that world and come out with solid intelligence? Ms. Zarghami: At the most basic level, we have people in the field keeping track of things like music, movies, fashions. We have research telling us the new lingo kids are using and translations of Continued on Page N14

Congratulations to our partners at Nickelodeon. 25 years and still flying high. . . N12

March 15, 2004

Congratulations for 25 years from the bikini bottom of our hearts. Copyright Š 2004 The Kellogg Company

Nickelodeon at 25

special advertising section of Advertising Age

Continued from Page N12

what it actually means. And this comes to us in some digestible form. I try as best I can to get in front of kids as often as I can. We try to get to focus groups around the country. At the moment, I’m also lucky because I have a 7year-old son. So I get to go to all the kids’ movies and see the competition on TV. In terms of competition, there is the Disney Channel, staffed now with many exNickelodeon people. We keep our eye on their shows. They’re not advertiser-supported, so we don’t pay that much attention. But Nickelodeon watches kids more than anything else. We need to stay with the audience and try to stay as close to the leaders in the kids audience. Ad Age: What do you mean leaders?

Ms. Zarghami: In every group there are early adapters and what [Malcolm Gladwell’s book] “The Tipping Point” calls “the mavens” of every demographic. There are experts out there. And also we have an excellent research organization. It is sometimes hard for us to find experts out of house who can deliver as much great information as we can. [Our people are] objective, smart and as tapped in as they can be. Part of the way we are able to be experts on the whole is by having great information coming in from the different parts. It reminds us not to be influenced [by any one thing or trend]. Ad Age: Do other Viacom companies draw on Nickelodeon’s expertise in the kids world? Ms. Zarghami: Yes. If you’re

Simon & Schuster and you want to tap into kid culture, you would come to us. If you’re CBS and you have the Saturday morning hours to fill, you would come to us. Nickelodeon programs and sells that full block on behalf of CBS. Our advertising staff sells all the kids commercial time for CBS. And all the programs [in it] are Nickelodeon’s. It’s called Nick on CBS, complete with a bug on the bottom of the screen. The great thing about having the CBS platform is there are still 20 million people out there who don’t get cable. So it lets us reach a broader audience, a good portion of which is unduplicated. Ad Age: Are advertising standards the same for CBS and Nick cable? Ms. Zarghami: Everything

We ’ v e a l way s g o t a


p l a c e f o r y o u.

For 25 years, you’ve given kids around the world even more to cheer about. And for the last three, you’ve given us reason to do the same. Congratulations to Nickelodeon on 25 wild, wacky and wonderful years. From your friend and proud partner, Embassy Suites Hotels.

© 2004 Hilton Hospitality, Inc. © 2004 Viacom International Inc. All rights reserved. Nickelodeon, Rugrats, SpongeBob SquarePants, The Wild Thornberrys, CatDog and all related titles, logos and characters are trademarks for Viacom International Inc. And although nothing was broken in our spacious two-room suite, we probably can’t say the same for your brand standards.


March 15, 2004

that we do comes from what I like to call the “constitution.” It comes from the early days of Nickelodeon when we wrote our standards-andpractices guidelines. It said we would always be appropriate, responsible programmers and reflect the world from a kid’s point of view. We were going

“Nickelodeon has been the network for kids, their first choice, and for many years their only choice.” —Cyma Zarghami to pay attention to gender, race, etc. All of the commercial guidelines we have follow those same informing principles, more or less for anything Nick puts its name to. Ad Age: As president, how deeply are you connected now with creative development? And where will Nick’s new programs be coming from? Ms. Zarghami: I see them early. We have a great development team in-house on the East Coast and on the West Coast. We decide together what the agenda is going to be for the coming season. Should we go after action-adventure, girl characters, squawkingsquishy animation, whatever. The development teams set their agenda, then they go out and comb the creative environment so they get perhaps 150 choices. They invite pitches and ideas. They go to the talent agencies, the animation community, the creative people involved in the shows already in production and people we’ve worked with in the past. Our development people narrow the choices to about six, depending on the genre. In live action they narrow it to about 10; in animation, to about seven or eight; Nick Jr. to about six. Then they come in and pitch them on paper [and make recommendations]. I weigh in when they come up with the best six or 10, and we try to narrow it down to three finalists. They

make smart decisions. There’s only an outside chance I will [override their recommendations]. Ad Age: What is the role of your development people during this phase? Ms. Zarghami: They guide the process. They are an incredibly seasoned group of development executives, so they know whether or not something has the potential to be great and they can sometimes add a few things to help make it great. Margie Cohen is our exec VP of development and was a show producer for many years, both outside and inside [Nickelodeon]. Nickelodeon is a magnet of sorts for creative people with a lot of heart, I think. They care deeply about the audience. And they care deeply about the creative process. That combination makes Nickelodeon a special place. If you wanted to be in the sexy end of the TV business [with high ratings], you wouldn’t necessarily come here. That’s a different perspective. Also, some of the best people we have come out of the ad agency world. Onair promotion is a big marketing job, from creating a brand personality to promoting tune-in messages and putting stuff on the air that has some attitude. Ad Age: Cable along with other delivery media has done a lot to eliminate the shared national experience of single popular culture. Everyone goes to his own place now. On balance, is this positive or something else? Ms. Zarghami: For kids I think it’s been the opposite of what you say. Nickelodeon has been the network for kids, their first choice, and for many years their only choice. It is a real unifying experience for kids. Two years ago we did a special called “All Growed Up,” where the “Rugrats” actually fast-forwarded 10 years and were “tweens.” The special got a 70 share among kids 2 to 11, meaning that of all kids who were watching TV at the time, 70% were tuned to us. That was a shared experience. In the adult world, you’re absolutely right. But for kids…they’re here at Nickelodeon. ■

First Anniversary - Paper

Tenth Anniversary - Tin

Fifteenth Anniversary - Crystal

Twenty-Fifth Anniversary - Slime

Congratulations Nickelodeon on 25 years of making kids smile and laugh...then covering them in oozing green liquid. Your friends at

Nickelodeon at 25

special advertising section of Advertising Age

‘A powerful brand for our marketing partners’ Promotional tie-ins score with Kellogg, General Mills, Ford, P&G and others hen the movie “Rugrats Go Wild” opened last summer, Nickelodeon used the allure of smelly feet to get kids into the theaters. It was all part of a promotion that Nick developed with Burger King Corp., complete with scratch-andsniff cards that coincided with key scenes in the movie. Such is the world of Nickelodeon Promotions Marketing, whose promotions with blue-chip marketers such as Procter & Gamble Co., Kellogg Co. and Ford Motor Co. led to a dizzying array of prizes. Highlights range from family trips to the Nickelodeon Kids’ Choice Awards


Pam Kaufman

to becoming an on-air superhero to the once-in-a-lifetime chance to slime your principal. If it sounds like every kid’s dream, it is—and that’s

the intention. “NickGeneral Mills tapped elodeon is an the power of Nick’s extremely powerful leading position in a brand for our successful ‘Blue’s marketing partners,” Clues’/Kix cereal says Pam Kaufman, promotion. Nick’s senior VP-marketing. “People know when they partner with Nick or put Nick into their advertising or promotion, it’s going to bring them success. Whether it’s retail at Target Corp.—SpongeBob was their most successful [promotion] ever—or whether it’s online, people really want to tap into Nick.” When Ms. Kaufman came to Nick-

elodeon from Turner Broadcasting System in 1997, the network was doing about eight promotions a year, she recalls. Today, that number is around 50. As the No. 1 network for kids, Nickelodeon is often a package-goods company’s first choice when it comes to reaching the 2-to-11 demographic. “What we’ve done is marry [our TV] properties with companies to support our brands,” Ms. Kaufman says. “We’ve worked with Burger King. We did a huge deal with Mitsubishi Motors North America on ‘SpongeBob SquarePants.’ We put Kix cereals [from General Mills] together with ‘Blue’s Clues.’ ” In addition to tapping into a marketer’s inner child, one of Nickelodeon’s most important tools is forward plan-

Jill Manee Vice President & Publisher Jeff Burch Advertising Director Allison Price Arden Director of Business Development Vickie Daniel Production Manager


March 15, 2004

ning. “We’re planning two years out; this is what we’ve done better than anyone else,” Ms. Kaufman says, adding that it takes that long to prepare most tie-ins. Toy companies, for example, already have planned for holiday ’05. Nickelodeon plans right alongside them, lining up its programming, its other businesses—like online and publishing—and its advertising schedule to accommodate. So while business is already closed on upcoming programs such as April’s “Nickelodeon Kids’ Choice Awards” and November’s “SpongeBob SquarePants” movie, Ms. Kaufman and her team are busy lining up partners for stuff that kids don’t even know exists yet. ■

Robert G. Goldsborough Editor-Director of Special Projects John McDonough, Alan Rosenthal Writers Richard K. Skews Associate Editor Barry Kafka Art Director

Nickelodeon at 25

special advertising section of Advertising Age

Reaching kids via ‘many platforms’ Nickelodeon Enterprises’ profitability rivals many cable networks ickelodeon Enterprises represents the ancillary businesses of Nickelodeon, including consumer products, online, publishing and recreation. With $3.5 billion in retail sales in 2003, however, Nick Enterprises’ place within the company is far from ancillary. “Our success comes from being everywhere kids are,” says Jeffrey D. Dunn, president of Nickelodeon Enterprises. “Both from a business point of view and in terms of interacting with our audience, we want to reach kids on as many platforms as possible,” he says. So Nickelodeon, the No. 1 network for kids, also boasts


the most widely read kids publication with Nickelodeon Magazine and the No. 1 Web site for preschoolers and their moms in Also, its live shows have a higher boxoffice gross than other family shows playing in theaters in the U.S. Its consumer products division is the largest TVbased licensing business in the world. Finally, Nickelodeon Enterprises is now overseeing its biggest project ever: the construction of the first Nickelodeon Hotel, opening this spring in Orlando, Fla. Being everywhere kids are has paid off richly for Nickelodeon Enterprises, whose profitability now rivals many cable networks. The division

made its first billion with “Rugrats” merchandise in 1996. That was quickly followed by Nickelodeon’s next big TV hit, “Blue’s Clues” and most recently with “SpongeBob SquarePants.” “SpongeBob” is now the company’s most successful merchandising line ever, with $2 billion in retail sales since the property was introduced two years ago. Emerging as Nick’s next hot properties are “Dora the Explorer” and “The Fairly OddParents.” Dora, a Latina heroine, is the No. 1 show for preschoolers on commercial TV. The property has already crossed the $1 billion mark in retail sales for a “Dora” line

Jeffrey Dunn: “Our success comes from being everywhere kids are.”

of bilingual merchandise, testament to the network’s devotion to diversity and the theory that children are colorblind. “The Fairly OddParents” competes with “SpongeBob” as the top show for kids 6 to 11 on all TV. “The Fairly OddParents” merchandise makes its debut for the 2004 holiday season. Does this mean Nickelodeon has the Midas Touch when it comes to picking the next hot property? Even with 350 focus groups a year, Mr. Dunn does not pretend to know what makes certain properties pop. He recalls that when “SpongeBob” was first presented to the consumer products group, it didn’t think there was much merchandising potential in what was essentially ... a sponge. “I saw it in development and thought it was a funny show, idea and character,” Mr. Dunn says. “But the uniform reaction across the company at first was that it was not ‘toyetic’—it didn’t obviously lend itself to toys. But what we didn’t know and couldn’t anticipate was the emotional connection that he was going to have with both kids and adults.” To be successful in the enterprise businesses, Mr. Dunn explains, you have to get kids’ involvement. TV opens that N18

March 15, 2004

door by bringing them the characters in a passive way. But getting them emotionally connected enough to make a purchase is another story. “What we learned with ‘Rugrats’ is if you can find those touch-points where kids want to interact, imitate or aspire to, then you can give them an off-network experience that’s meaningful.” Mr. Dunn doesn’t hesitate to say that Nick Enterprises owes its success to the success of the network. That level of comfort, however, is about to be challenged as Nickelodeon Enterprises begins introducing products and properties that have no connection to the channel. In October, Nickelodeon Consumer Products borrowed a page from Nintendo by introducing Tak and the Power of Juju, the network’s first property introduced via a videogame. Recognizing that boys in particular play videogames as much as if not more than they watch TV, Nickelodeon decided to unveil its new property on that medium. Early sales indicate that Tak’s a hit: 1 million units are expected to be sold by Easter. And, in the name of corporate synergy, Mr. Dunn says a “Tak” TV show is now in development. ■

Congratulations on 25 Years of Programming Excellence. We're thrilled to be on your winning team.

Nickelodeon at 25

special advertising section of Advertising Age

Continuing to build on a tradition of diversity By Herb Scannell President, Nickelodeon Networks


productions involve kids of all backgrounds and races— African-Americans, AsianAmericans and kids with disabilities. Most recently, Nickelodeon has been at the forefront of recognizing Latinos in our programs. Our most prominent example is

“Latinos are often treated as a niche audience, but they are a mainstream audience by their ELENA SIEBERT/NICKELODEON

’ve sometimes been asked by people why we make such a big deal about diversity at Nickelodeon. What does it have to do with ratings and advertising dollars? Don’t kids just want to watch cartoons? After 25 years, diversity has in effect become part of Nickelodeon’s DNA as we’ve literally changed the face of kids’ TV, and I firmly believe it’s the reason we’ve been the No. 1 network in cable for eight straight years. You want a business case for diversity? I’d say we’re it. Over the years challenging conventional wisdom has become a clarion call for Nickelodeon and the people who work here. Early on, that meant something as simple as putting girls in starring roles, which had not been done previously. We gave Melissa Joan Hart her own series, “Clarissa Explains It All,” and it became a huge hit with girls and boys. Our commitment to diversity has not been a hardship but rather a contributor to our ratings success. Our

numbers alone.” “Dora the Explorer,” an animated preschool series about a bilingual Latina that is approaching iconic, “Sesame Street” and “Blue’s Clues” status. There is a tremendous paradigm shift that is happening now with the Latino population, and it presents a great

Herb Scannell

opportunity for companies willing to embrace it. An enormous generation of Latinos is coming of age with greater expectations for how its dual cultures should be

recognized and represented in the media and in society at large. This generation is a force to be reckoned with. Latinos are often treated as a niche audience, but they are a

mainstream audience by their numbers alone. Today, fully 20% of all births in the U.S. are to Latina mothers, and in California they account for the majority of births. With 70% of the nation’s 37 million Latinos under the age of 30, it is an audience that marketers and the media need to understand. Unlike their parents and grandparents, for this generation, it’s no longer about assimilating into American culture. For this generation, assimilation has given way to a new idea—acculturation— retaining one’s native culture while incorporating it into what it means to be American. It’s about being Puerto Rican and American, Mexican and American, Colombian and American. Latinos strongly desire to keep their cultural connections, but there is no denying the huge influence that American media have on all ethnic groups in this country. Today, many Latinos in the U.S. think of themselves as

The ‘Alumni Association’ Nickelodeon has given numerous future luminaries their start. Among them: Amanda Bynes (“All That,” “The Amanda Show” on Nick) currently stars in “What I Like About You” on The WB. She also has been in the feature films “Big, Fat Liar” and “American Girl.” Kenan Thompson (All That,” “Kenan & Kel”) is a cast member of “Saturday Night Live.” Nick Cannon (“All That,” “The Nick Cannon Show”) reAmanda Bynes cently starred in the feature films “Drumline” and “Can’t Buy Me Love.” Melissa Joan Hart (“Clarissa Explains It All”) starred in “Sabrina, the Teenage Witch” and several feature films. Producers Brian Robbins, Mike Tollin (created “All That,” “Kenan & Kel,” “The Amanda Show,” “Sports Theater With Shaquille O’Neal,” “Cousin Skeeter,” “The Nick Cannon Show”) went on to create HBO’s “Arli$$,” WB’s “Smallville” and “What I Like About You.” Among their movie credits are Nickelodeon Movies’ “Good Burger,” Universal’s “Big, Far Liar,” MTV’s “Varsity Blues,” Paramount’s “Hardball” and Warner Brothers’ “Summer Catch.” Kenan Thompson N20

March 15, 2004

Nickelodeon at 25 having two lives: one in which they listen to hip-hop with friends but dance to salsa at home with family; one in which they watch novelas in Spanish with grandma but also IM with their classmates on the computer. Latinos are the emerging middle class whose purchasing power is expected nearly to double to $926 billion by the year 2007. Imagine this: Over the next 10 years, Latino culture could become what hip-hop was to the ’90s. That’s a powerful idea, and one that all media must take into account when creating and marketing content. To capture this valuable audience, media should not treat it as alternative but as part of the mainstream target. When Nickelodeon presented “Dora the Explorer” as a live show at Radio City Music Hall in New York, it was a remarkable cultural moment when the 5,000 kids in the audience—who were a mix of many ethnicities—screamed, “Salta! Salta!” (“Jump! Jump!”) Dora has forged a special emotional connection with Latino families because she represents a positive character that embodies the themes of

acculturation—speaking Spanish and English, and being proud of her heritage and making it an integral part of her everyday life. Incidentally, from a business perspective, Dora has been nothing short of a home run. It is the No. 1 preschool show on commercial TV and has become a $1 billion property. The roots of acculturation always have existed with Latinos. As the son of a proud Puerto Rican mother, I am re-

special advertising section to Advertising Age

minded of a trip I made to Puerto Rico in 1983 to visit relatives. I had been working in cable TV only three years and the island was about to get its first American, Englishlanguage cable TV feed. I felt sure this pipeline of Americana would have a profound, culture-altering, Americanizing effect on Puerto Ricans. My mother, however, fervently disagreed. In her best doña (authoritative) voice, she said “Her-

bert,” (she only calls me that when she’s really angry) “that will never happen here. Puerto Ricans will always be Puerto Ricans, no matter what.” Fast forward to last winter, when, on another trip to Puerto Rico, I asked a cousin of mine if the MTV feed there should be in English, which it is, or Spanish? His response was an emphatic “both.” As we move forward in the 21st century, the full range of diverse cultural voices must

be better represented in American media. But from New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson to Alex Rodriguez and Salma Hayek, today it’s Latinos who are the cultural trendsetters as well as drivers of economic growth. In terms of Latinos in the U.S., we’ve reached a tipping point. Companies that embrace this dynamic group as mainstream and on acculturated—not assimilated—terms have a lot to gain. ■

Here’s to growing older, but never growing up.

Melissa Joan Hart

Larisa Oleynik (“The Secret World of Alex Mack”) starred in the feature film “10 Things I Hate About You” and had a recurring role in “3rd Rock From the Sun.” Alanis Morrisette (“You Can’t Do That on Television”) became a multiplatform recording artist.

© 2002 Paramount Pictures and Viacom International Inc. All rights reserved. Nickelodeon, The Wild Thornberrys and all related titles, logos and characters are trademarks of Viacom International Inc. The Wild Thornberrys created by Klasky Csupo, Inc. © 2002 Viacom International Inc. All rights reserved. Nickelodeon, SpongeBob SquarePants and all related titles, logos and characters are trademarks of Viacom International Inc. Created by Stephen Hillenburg. © 2001 Paramount Pictures and Viacom International Inc. All rights reserved. Nickelodeon, Jimmy Neutron Boy Genius and all related titles, logos and characters are trademarks of Viacom International Inc. Alanis Morrisette

March 15, 2004


Nickelodeon at 25

special advertising section of Advertising Age

Advertisers praise innovation, enthusiasm, focus INTERVIEWS CONDUCTED BY ALAN ROSENTHAL

Jeffrey Katzenberg I think Nickelodeon is the single most effective vehicle in the world for reaching kids. It is the kids brand of the 21st century. It’s cool. They’ve made Nickelodeon into the exciting, cool place to be. When you have a prod“Nickelodeon. . . want[s] us uct to promote to a young audience, there to succeed in reaching the simply isn’t a better vehicle to reach them. audience and delivering our Beyond that, [Nickelodeon is] amazingly message in the right way.” savvy and knowledgeable Jeffrey Katzenberg, about their audience. Nickelodeon’s people DreamWorks SKG help and guide you to the best means to deliver your message to that audience. sistently. You can go back and So it’s not just that they oflook at the “Antz” campaign, fer a vehicle—they also give the “Shrek” campaign, you a roadmap with it. “Chicken Run”—every one We’ve found them to be ex- of them—and you’ll see that ceptional partners. One thing every time out they’ve manI find special and valuable aged to do something special. about Nickelodeon is they So, for us, it’s been an amazwant us to succeed in reaching partnership; we have no ing the audience and deliverpartnership that’s better. They ing our message in the right bend over backwards to make way. sure that everything works Each time we’ve worked smoothly and effectively. with them, the campaign has As an advertiser, you can’t been innovative. Each time, ask for more than that. they custom-design, custombuild an approach that’s orTerry Press ganic to their world, an apHead of marketing for proach that will complement DreamWorks SKG and fit in with their scheduling and programming. We really get integrated; we become As Jeffrey indicated, we’ve partnered with Nickelodeon part of Nickelodeon. on every one of our animated And they’ve done this con-

George Lange

Co-founder, DreamWorks SKG

movies, and we’ve found that Nickelodeon is really the only brand that matters to children. Nickelodeon’s staff has been extremely helpful. Actually, they’re very inventive partners. They’re always looking for ways to make their content interesting to their audience, so they take what we have and package it in the most attractive way to reach that audience. Beyond that, they know their audience. They know their platform. And they try not to do same things over and over. Among the key people in our relationship are Herb Scannell [MTVN group president], who has been very helpful, and Paula Kaplan [senior VP-talent], who has been Nickelodeon’s liaison with Hollywood for many years. Paula is the person we deal with day to day, and she does an amazing job.

Andy Jung Senior director-advertising & media, Kellogg Co. Clearly, Nickelodeon is a true leader in kids programming. Just look at the continued success they’ve had over the past 25 years. We have worked with them since their early days and, particularly in the last year or two, they’ve shown a renewed enthusiasm regarding our marketing programs, sponsorship opportunities and joint promotional

efforts. The best recent example of this is the product program we’ve jointly developed behind the “SpongeBob SquarePants” campaign. In January, we launched a series of promotional products with the “SpongeBob SquarePants” character, and we’re pleased with the results so far. This effort includes our Egg-O waffles business, our Pop Tarts toaster pastry snacks business, our Cheez-It cheese snacks business and our SpongeBob SquarePants cereal. And later this year, we’ll also be supporting the “SpongeBob” movie release. Our strong relationship with Nickelodeon has re-established itself, and we’re now closer partners than ever before. We’ve built a relationship between experienced people in both organizations, a relationship built on trust and on joint understanding of each other’s business goals, so we’re able to put together programs that are beneficial for both parties. We’ve found that Nickelodeon’s personnel are knowledgeable and professional. They seem to understand what drives our business, and they’re willing to share how they can help grow our business. It’s more than just “dollars for eyeballs.” Among the key people in our relationship are Jim Perry [senior VP-advertising], Laura Nowatka [VP-promotions marketing] and Jennifer

Choromanski [account exec]. They are the ones who we rely on on a day-to-day basis and on a strategic basis. They’re the people who have enabled our relationship to flourish. As we look forward, we see Nickelodeon continuing to be a good partner for us. We market products for all age groups, and we’re very careful about how we select our promotional partners. Nickelodeon has been very receptive to our business needs, as well as our promotional and marketing needs. We congratulate Nickelodeon on being in business for 25 years. And we’re delighted at how they’ve expanded their franchise, such as with Nick at Nite and TV Land. In fact, we’ve been working with several extensions in the broader Viacom family, since they provide new opportunities for us. As their brand has grown, we’ve been able to grow with them.

Pilar Bush Deputy director, Cayman Islands Department of Tourism We’re just starting a new relationship with Nickelodeon. The reason we selected them is that we share many of the same values as a destination that they have as a company, such as a commitment to families and children. We both want interactive, quality experiences. So we built our partnership

You’ve touched the lives of millions of kids around the world.

Congratulations, Nickelodeon , on 25 phenomenal years. “Way to bring it around town!” From your book partners and biggest fans N22

March 15, 2004

© 2004 Viacom International Inc.


Nickelodeon at 25 around “SpongeBob SquarePants” because the show is set completely underwater (and, of course, the Cayman Islands are known for their pristine underwater environment; we’re very committed to preserving that). So the “SpongeBob” property provides ways to communicate that message. The show speaks to adults and children, and it delivers that message in an underwater environment. In addition, the “SpongeBob” character lives in a pineapple under the sea—and a pineapple is on our coat of arms. So you can see it’s a great match for us. Beyond that, we have shared business values. We like the fun and entertaining ways that we can achieve our goals through a show that’s entertaining for families. We have a multimedia relationship—on TV, online and in print through and Nickelodeon Magazine and Nick Junior. Also, we will be the exclusive travel sponsor for the new “SpongeBob” movie to be released later this year. We’ll start joint promotions this summer, and once it’s in theaters, we will have a phenomenal sweepstakes for children, a very exciting program for kids. The third thing we’re doing with them is that this summer we’re starting a Sea School for youngsters, which we created to promote preservation of the marine environment. All children who are here in the islands this summer will be able to go to classes where they’ll see an appropriate “SpongeBob” episode. Then, people from our Department of the Environment will talk about the importance of marine preservation. Some sessions will relate to preservation of reefs or fish, to water quality or turtles. In addition, we will have activities sheets, developed jointly by Nickelodeon and by us, which will help parents and caregivers reinforce the lessons of the classes. When the kids are done, they’ll get a diploma— which may even be presented by SpongeBob. Nickelodeon’s staff has been phenomenal to work with. The team has an uncommon mix of professionalism and passion for what they do. They are professional people who also are warm and enjoy

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what they do. Originally, we met with Laura Nowatka [VP-promotions marketing] just to talk about how we positioned our-

“We are really delighted that our two brands could come together and. . . [help] to communicate marine preservation.” Pilar Bush, Cayman Islands Dept. of Tourism selves and whom we wanted to reach. As we talked, her eyes lit up, and she said, “There’s something that would really work for the two of us.” And that’s how the “SpongeBob” partnership came about. Another key person on the team is Nelson Boyce [director of business development], who has worked hard to accommodate us. Since we’re a government, we don’t move as quickly as some corporations. They were very understanding as we went through the process to make it work. Two others who support Laura and also are great to work with are Andrea Fasulo [manager-promotions marketing] and Lauren Berman [director-on-air promotions marketing]. In fact, it’s hard to pick just a few. They have many professional, passionate people. We are really delighted that our two brands could come together and do something as important as helping to communicate marine preservation. We’re not preaching, just saying: “Look at who we are and what we do.” If we can spread that message, we’re Continued on Page N24

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Nickelodeon at 25

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contributing good things to the world.

Donna Speciale President-U.S. broadcasting, MediaVest Worldwide Nickelodeon has always known kids inside out. Nickelodeon understands who they are, what they are all about. That’s why they know how to program to kids so well. They’re always on the forefront of focus groups, talking to kids on a regular basis. Since they’re always in tune with kids of all ages, Nickelodeon knows their every move. That’s important, because kids’ habits, likes and wants change very quickly. Because Nickelodeon is so in tune with these changes, over the years they’ve been able to change and market in ways that will touch the audience and get them to respond. That’s what so amazing about them.


March 15, 2004

They’ve come a long way in 25 years. At first, they were the sole provider to this audience on cable, so they didn’t seem as user-friendly as they could have been. But, over the years, that has completely

Donna Speciale

turned around. Now, they’ve definitely embraced partnerships with marketers and agencies. They try to do what’s best holistically for whomever we’re targeting. Jim Perry [senior VP-advertising] and Sue Danaher [exec VP-general sales manag-

er] are great to work with. They really “get it.” I also deal with Jim Tricarico [VPadvertising], who is Mr. Perry’s right hand. Also, Pam Kaufman [senior VP-promotions marketing] is amazing. She’s the person behind a lot of their marketing efforts, the one behind a lot of the holistic marketing that they’ve been doing. Everyone at Nickelodeon now realizes it’s a partnership. They know that what’s important is relationships; they know there will be another negotiation in a day, a week, next quarter, next year. We always leave a meeting feeling it’s a win-win partnership, and we try to grow from there. One of the best innovative things they’ve done was to create the “Nickelodeon Kids’ Choice Awards,” which has become a phenomenon in the kids world. Nickelodeon realized that awards shows do well with adults, and they do well with kids, too. Kids are starstruck, and they like to vote. Then the whole online craze came along to support this. I think the awards show is in its 17th year now, and every year it gets bigger and bigger. That’s just one thing that shows Nickelodeon knows what kids want. The kids marketplace has changed, and Nickelodeon isn’t the only game in town anymore. So they have to be in tune with the competition and what they have to do to maintain prominence. They usually zig when someone else is zagging. Also, Nickelodeon realizes that they have to catch kids wherever they are, and they’re not always watching television. So they’ve developed other marketing platforms, such as their Web sites and their magazines. They’ve done a great job of building their online sites and magazines to reach kids in all different aspects of their lives.

Brian Farrel President-CEO, THQ Nickelodeon defines what a good partner should be. As a videogame publisher, we now manage all their animated brands in the videogame category. We’ve worked with them for about 10 years, and we became their master licensee about four years ago. They understand what we as a licensee need to do to drive our business. They listen. They think. They understand. That’s critical in our space. It has to be a two-way dialogue, and they do that very well.

Brian Farrel

They “own” kids, and they understand that videogames are a big part of kids’ lives. We both want to do everything possible to ensure that the Nickelodeon brand is delivered in the right way to our consumer. For example, we publish games based on their shows such as “Fairly OddParents,” “Rugrats,” “Rocket Power” and “SpongeBob SquarePants.” We go all the way back to games for “Ren & Stimpy,” about 10 years ago. Probably the defining note of our partnership came about three years ago, when we met with some of the senior Nickelodeon people, and Steve Youngwood [senior VPconsumer products] said: “What if we created a new character and a new world and introduced it in a videogame?” This was not like our usual deal, in which we’d base games on their ani-

mated characters. This was creating a whole new property in the games space first, with the intention of later taking it to TV or maybe eventually to movies. That embryonic idea became a very successful title last year, called Tak and the Power of JuJu. Together, we developed the game, then Nickelodeon used their marketing muscle and media to promote Tak. We launched the marketing campaign last October, using TV, online, Nickelodeon Magazine, even a music video that showed up on MTV. It was a cross-media blitz. Keep in mind that it’s difficult to create new intellectual properties in our space. Everyone said it couldn’t be done. But we’ve sold more than three-quarters of a million units of the Tak game since October, which is astounding. So this is two organizations working together. It’s been good for us, giving us a new franchise in the games space, and it’s good for Nickelodeon because there’s a new world to take to their core media. That’s a partnership. And Nickelodeon did more than market it. Their creative people got involved in creating the Tak world—who is Tak, what does he do, why does he do what he does, what’s the story line? Clearly, based on the success of the Tak videogame in the marketplace, I think it’s likely it may next become a TV property. Our relationship works at all levels of the organization. In particular, I’d credit Jeff Dunn [president], whom I’ve dealt with in high-level meetings, and Leigh Anne Brodsky [exec VP-consumer products], who understands our business, understands retail, understands the big picture of launching characters and launching cross-promotions. Then, on a day-to-day basis, Steve Youngwood [senior VP-

Nickelodeon at 25 consumer products] should get a lot of credit for the Tak deal and for really making things happen overall. When partners really trust each other, it works well.

loving but acknowledge that they’re savvy and intelligent at the same time. That’s our attitude at Burger King as well. Our campaigns with Nickelodeon have been consistent-

Brian Gies Senior director-youth & family marketing, Burger King Corp. The chief advantage of our relationship with Nickelodeon is that we have the common objective of being focused on working with kids. And they do it so well, with incredibly high standards. Nickelodeon’s people have a great eye for identifying and developing great kids entertainment, so we have a lot to choose from; there’s a lot in their arsenal. Their environment is a great fit for us, because of Nickelodeon’s relentless pursuit of being real and authentic for kids. They don’t talk down to kids; instead, they embrace kids being kids: They recognize that kids are fun-

Brian Gies

ly effective. For example, “Rugrats” has been a perennial winner for us. We have “Rugrats” promotions both in TV and film forms, and the popularity of “Rugrats” lends itself well to creating promotional excitement and a compelling series of related toys. Best of all, the Nickelodeon promotions produce results. Sales is always metric No. 1 for us. As we delight kids with our programs, we see this

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translated into incremental visits to our restaurants. While we’ve had success with our “Rugrats” tie-in promotions, “SpongeBob” is now giving “Rugrats” a run for the money. So far, we’ve had only a couple of “SpongeBob” promotions, and they’ve done a great job of generating fun and excitement for kids in our restaurants. We’re thrilled to be partnering with them on another big “SpongeBob” event later this year. What makes our relationship work so well is we’re truly engaged with Nickelodeon in a very real partnership on everything we do together. Maximizing heat obviously is critical to any successful promotion, so our promotions are supported in Nickelodeon Magazine and, as well as on-air campaigns. Complementing that are our promotional events at our 8,000-plus restaurants. We also have a Kids’ Club membership of more than 5

million kids who receive news about our promotions through personalized direct mail to their homes or a newsletter that’s distributed at our restaurants in concert with our promotions. On top of that, there’s always a collection of dynamite toys tied to any campaign. All of this is themed to the promotion to generate additional excitement. Also, we appreciate their innovative ideas: For our most recent promotion, tied to the theatrical release of “Rugrats Go Wild,” we created additional excitement with a dual partnership with Nickelodeon and Paramount. This includes a scratch-and-sniff card tied to the movie, and we will distribute millions of the cards at our restaurants. Kids will take the card to the movie, then, upon an on-screen prompt, will scratch and sniff scents appropriate to images in the movie. They get an unusual sensory experience while watching the movie, courtesy of Burger King. Nickelodeon’s people immerse themselves in under-

standing our business. They are a smart group of promotional experts, led by Pam Kaufman [senior VP-promotions marketing]. She’s my partner on all these efforts. Pam and her team have been invaluable in forging close relationships with us and our agencies. Other key team members are Nicole Sabatini [managermarketing] and Niels Shuurmans [senior VP-on-air creative]. Niels is one of Nickelodeon’s chief creatives, and he’s been instrumental in idea creation for us. Nicole helps us develop and execute promotions. They work with a vast network of people in their organization to make things happen for us. They make what could be a very complicated exercise—involving many, many people, toys produced in China and everything else— as simple as it possibly can be. We work very well together; in fact, seamlessly. We’re proud of the strong relationship we have with a preeminent vehicle to reach kids. ■

March 15, 2004


Nickelodeon at 25

special advertising section of Advertising Age

A galaxy of Nickelodeon shows over the years “Kenan & Kel”

“The Mystery Files of Shelby Woo”

“Dora the Explorer”

“Ren & Stimpy”

“All That”

“Family Double Dare”

“You Can’t Do That on Television”

“The Amanda Show”

“The Rugrats: All Growed Up”

“Clarissa Explains It All” “Hey Arnold!”


March 15, 2004

Nickelodeon at 25

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“Little Bill”


“Nickelodeon Kids Choice Awards”

“Fairly OddParents”

“Blue’s Clues”

“Jimmy Neutron, Boy Genius”

“Nick News With Linda Ellerbee ”

“The Wild Thornberrys”

“The Brothers Garcia”

March 15, 2004


© JOHNSON & JOHNSON Consumer Companies, Inc. 2004. BAND-AID® is a registered trademark of Johnson & Johnson © 2004 Viacom. SpongeBob SquarePants created by Stephen Hillenburg. The Fairly Odd Parents created by Butch Hartman.

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