Lucky boys

Poor guys…

Today’s NYT contains an article, “Disney Expert Uses Science to Draw Boy Viewers,” that made me feel sorry for them. Keep your heads down, boys — they’re using “science” to find your boy-princess sweet spot!

I like the word choice of “science.” Or, in this case,  focus group research, maybe even ethnography-lite — and I mean lite: What teen is going to open up to an adult with a video camera while shopping with mom?! (Perhaps they should be researching how to research.) And they call the head researcher–whose background is in casinos–the “kid whisperer.” Giving kids a whole lot of credit, aren’t they?

To be fair, maybe they’re trying. Disney is actually marketing this marketing research:

Fearful of coming off as too manipulative, youth-centric media companies rarely discuss this kind of field research. Disney is so proud of its new “headquarters for boys,” however, that it has made an exception, offering a rare window onto the emotional hooks that are carefully embedded in children’s entertainment. The effort is as outsize as the potential payoff: boys 6 to 14 account for $50 billion in spending worldwide, according to market researchers.

Fascinating. This actually makes me want to watch Disney tv to see just how this transparency plays out. Do they mention that $50 billion? Do they have polls about color schemes? Do they ask for interactive responses to the bold move of having a protagonist struggle with (gasp) not being the star basketball player?

The coolest part, I think, is one insight:

In Ms. Peña’s research boys across markets and cultures described the television aimed at them as “purposeless fun” but expressed a strong desire for a new channel that was “fun with a purpose,” Mr. Ross said. Hollywood has been thinking of them too narrowly — offering all action or all animation — instead of a more nuanced combination, he added.

I love the idea of kids telling Disney they want “fun with a purpose.” I wonder what Disney will decide that looks like? Or more importantly, how to make money off it…?

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2 thoughts on “Lucky boys

  1. I’m glad you picked up on this article. It reminded me of the “Funzo” episode of The Simpsons with “Kids First Industry” determining what kids really wanted for Christmas. But what Disney is doing is humorous in another way.

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