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…?