With a toddler in my house, what is shown on television is extremely important. Over the last two and a half years, I’ve been figuring out how it all works, what the best channels are, programmes, etc. I have always been fascinated by the psychology that goes into creating children’s programming. In his book, the Tipping Point, Malcolm Gladwell gives us a peek into how Sesame Street was created and the amount of creativity, research and testing that went into producing Nickelodeon’s Blue’s Clues. It is not about merely finding something that is perceived to be funny or educational for children; it is an arduous and lengthy process.
And now Nickelodeon is celebrating 30 years of existence of creating children’s programming, and of living the philosophy “Kid’s First”. As part of this milestone, Nickelodeon is re-branding itself, bringing a new look & feel across its various properties, including launching a new logo. The platform has been in South Africa for just under 2 years, broadcast on DSTV’s Channel 305 to SA, Botswana, Lesotho, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa, Swaziland, Zambia and Zimbabwe. It is also available in Nigeria on the HiTV pay-TV platform.
In addition to the roll-out of a couple of new series, including The Penguins of Madagascar (which I have to watch, truly gangster – “just smile & wave boys”), True Jackson, Victorious and The Troop, they are introducing commercial opportunities. This is the part that makes me extremely nervous as a parent. Our children are bombarded constantly with commercial messages and, as any parent who has walked in a supermarket with their child will tell you, it can create some real difficulty.
“These opportunities include spot advertising, on-air sponsorships and fully-immersive, 360-degree through-the-line marketing campaigns. In line with Nickelodeon’s reputation as a safe and trusted destination for kids, a key component of the commercialization process is to ensure that commercials aired are kid-friendly and contain responsible messages to children.”
My son has only recently started watching Nickelodeon for variety – we have lived on CBeebies up till now – so we’ll see how he takes to the new look and feel, while I will be watching the whole commercial aspect very closely. I am a firm believer in the view that it is our responsibility, as parents, to monitor what our children are exposed to, across the board.