Nickelodeon’s 2007 Kids’ Choice Award Winners

nicksplat.jpgSplat. Slime. Ooze. Muck. 40 million kids can’t be wrong, eh?

Billed as the “biggest, loudest, messiest spectacle in the show’s history,” I tuned in to the KCA awards with my 11-year old. My goal was to keep track of mega-media influences, digital tactics, tween TV and glean some perspective from her editorial comments firsthand. Enlightening.

Justin Timberlake’s “belching promo” tipped me off that grossology is a huge portion of this brand, and not the variety that tours the tech museums in science spheres either. All the kids in the audience “pumped up the burp volume to an all-time high.” Gee. Now there’s some aspirational marketing.

I’m well aware kids have a huge thing for ‘ewwww’ factor, like Discovery’s “yuckiest site on the internet,” otherwise Shaping Youth wouldn’t be counter-marketing junk food using media’s gross out game reality show tactics!

But, snarky celebrity slams and pulling a three foot booger from a giant-sized nose prop to reveal the top award winners is nothing to sneeze at when it comes to kids’ media influences, because the ‘anything goes’ behavioral correlation is self-evident.

Kids are only being as rude and outrageous as their adult media idols seeking ever-increasing shock value, right?

Toss in a few ‘shut your piehole’ references, frantic fan squeals and popularity poll tenor from the ‘wannabe’ awards and you’ve got a solid snapshot of out of control kidlets jacked up with gonzo media sass, flash and hype.

Now for a kid’s reaction: “I guess it was good,” said my nonplussed tween, yawning at the tasteless shockers in desensitized ‘what’s the big deal’ style. You seem where I’m going here? We reap what we sow.

As media producers, we can’t whine about lack of civility and ‘thumb our nose’ at it simultaneously…that’s oxymoronic. And as viewers, if we tune in to vapid flatulence and ear-piercing decibel levels of mindlessness, then we shouldn’t be cocking our heads at why tasteless humor buries quality at the box office.

Own it or change it, people. No excuses.

Celebrity fixation was so readily apparent that it was mind-numbing, especially witnessing some of these ‘stars’ that couldn’t string a sentence together without glaring into the teleprompter like dazed deer…

It made me want to go back to my broadcast days and pull the plug just to watch ‘em squirm, as a poignant reminder that technology can only take you so far without content and brain matter.

Mayhem ruled. The obnoxiously loud voiceover by the off-cam MC who couldn’t speak without shouting even annoyed my daughter. She also pronounced the contrived argumentative back talk schtick onstage, “lame.”

It was helpful having this multi-generation perspective with the target market sitting right next to me. We were like a disjointed Joan & Melissa Rivers routine on the red carpet of the Academy Awards.

Half the people I knew and she didn’t and the other half she knew and I didn’t.

“Who’s Maroon Five?” she’d say, and I’d click my laptop for an mp3 demo.

“Who’s Cole Sprouse?” I’d say, and she’d admonish, “you KNOW, mom, on Zack & Cody.”

I’d reply, “ah. Got it. Wait. I thought it was Drake & Josh that you liked?”

“I do, mom, sheesh, get with it.” (Those are two of her media faves, along with Growing Pains and Full House from yesteryear which I even recall, so she’s a pretty average tween according to the Nielsen ratings and popular lineups.)

I asked her about the fevered pitch, amped up tenor, and crass pratfall preferences and she just shrugged it off,

“All that booger stuff is for the boys; but wow, did you see Dakota Fanning got braces? She looks SO different, and OLD…Look, Hilary Duff is a brunette again, she looked better as a blonde. And that Ben Stiller guy has GRAY hair, how old IS he anyway?”

Um. Probably my age or younger, sweetie.

Context? Media Concern?

Appearance. Appearance. Appearance. You could hear my sigh all the way in Peoria…

As for the techno side, this is where the significance really comes in for those of us in the change-making arena. It’s fast and responsive.

These kids are clearly wired, and as the KFF report shows, adept at multitasking, and integrating interactive media seamlessly. Kids’ Choice voting alone topped last year’s participation record by over 13 million.

Generation M had the opportunity to be counted on any of Nickelodeon’s digital platforms: the ad-laden licensing bombardment of Nick.com, their social media/virtual world roamfest at Nicktropolis or their video-streaming mashup of branded content and kid-tweaked videos at TurboNick.

Kids could also text in their faves via cell phones. Digital media is integrating with multiple platforms fast, fast, fast.

According to Nielsen/NetRatings, Nick.com/TurboNick drew 18 million visitors last MONTH; Disney’s expanded online home, which includes movies and other properties, drew more than 19 million. ‘Hecka’ tween scene…

Digital distribution is obviously huge with the infiltration of this mega-brand. (NickJr., teen podcasts, mobile, mag, ‘MeTV’, sheesh, I’m surprised there’s not a NickBaby–eek don’t give them any ideas!)

On the award show itself, they used the classic anticipatory “build up” to have TV viewers vote online to determine the method of “climactic barrier-breaking star sliming.” (obviously going for the cross-platform caché of interactive, much like the American Idol/KFC bit that I wrote about last month)

My daughter voted on my laptop without so much as a blink, when the prompt appeared…eagerly scurrying, “Hurry up mom, go to the KCA site.”

Pavlov correlation, anyone?

KCA press blitz said, “Viewers voted on nick.com for a stunning, goo-gushing mode and sat back for the real-time spectacle. Their three choices: blowing out a section of the house with slime, hence dousing hundreds; having an elephant suck all the excess slime out of the house and blow it out his trunk; or activating a huge geyser under the stage.”

It was actually much more ho-hum and predictable than that, but it was definitely a solid integration of interactive…

I kept thinking of the vast potential to use this ‘real time’ seamlessness for cause-marketing; taking actions pronto that yield shifts toward global media movements.

Again, it’s all about content, context, and opportunity.

Later, I surfed all three of Nick’s digital platforms thoroughly with some of our tween advisors. Again, vast potential there if harnessed for something more profound than selling Trix and Burger King.

Nick.com left my head spinning with all the trash-n-flash and copious quantities of ‘stuff.’ Layers and layers of games, gizmos, and sensory overload…Even our advisory kids were a bit overwhelmed.

Izzy Neis, who I met at Community Next awhile back, captures this feeling quite well in an earlier blog post on Nicktropolis when she writes:

“I’ve sat down with a group of kids and watched them surf (you want to watch something interesting— watch a kid click about the web). The girls (6 – 12) liked Disney.com (pre-relaunch)— it didn’t hurt their eyes with blink-blink/flash-flash. —The boys (6 – 12) liked addictinggames.com & Kingdomofloathing.com.

Nick.com made them blink like rabbits in headlights…I tend to compare brain activity to hamsters on wheels—– these kids’ hamsters’ froze and were thrown helplessly from the wheel, left stunned in a corner.”

Whew. Thank gawd it’s not just me.

While I view it as over-stimulation and competing chaos, Izzy is a much kinder, gentler (younger) media maven, who actually loves Nickelodeon and politely says,

“When you look at the page everything battles for your eye’s attention and in the end no one wins. Like when you put speakers facing each other and they cancel each other out.”

In fairness, I try (I really, really try!) to integrate both sides of the media mix, and temper my adult observations with our youth advisory board. They often assure that they can tune out and filter much of the uber-hype.

This actually played out via my own observation of my daughter’s abject disregard of what she didn’t want to hear with indifference. (with the exception of the loudmouth MC)

Could this be that ‘selective hearing’ thing that makes kids ignore the chore nags like clean up your room?

Even though my child appeared almost immune to the media shock attempts (which was unsettling from a desensitization perspective) it foreshadows why things like online porn pop-ups are urban wallpaper to some of the older teens we work with…And yet…

Observing teens click through media with a “block and bury” wince is disheartening, especially knowing how damaging and disturbing it is to self-worth when we query girls pointblank on this issue.

Is this Generation M’s sophisticated media filtering capability? Are kids being trained to be ‘full-metal jacket’ warriors to shield themselves from drek?

Or is the subliminal background noise getting strained through a mental colander, and attaching itself in a behavioral message of what’s “normative” at a much deeper level in the psyche?

Hmn. I’d like to explore this one further with psychological experts. All the more reason media intake makes me want to raise the bar MUCH higher on the content level regardless.

With 24/7 digital delivery to multiple screens, imagine the potential for change agents to shift kids’media in a positive, purposeful direction.

Media that’s fun, fulfilling, and more than a one-way conversation being fed by beaucoup bucks of what sponsors thing kids want to see, eat and hear.

I’m optimistic that we can change the channel of influence to a more meaningful, purposeful one…But it all starts with content, context, and opening up a digital dialogue.

As Gandhi said, “We must be the change we wish to see in the world.”

Shaping Youth is trying to do our part. Kids? Parents? Industry? Weigh in with your views…What do YOU wish for media to be?

What’s YOUR choice, kids?

Vote with your actions. Your wallet. Your words.

If we turn up the volume on the positive media movement to a level strong enough to be heard, we may have more choices than we think.

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Comments

  1. Woo hoo! Thanks for the shout out.

    Okay, I can’t agree with you more about the KCA. The sliming I love… the goofyness is great– but there was something a bit “snarky” in this years (“Shut your pie hole is not one of my favorite says… funny for kids? Sort of, but also sort of mean-rude). Talk about CELEBRITIES?! It was almost ridiculous how many random celebs were there. Hmph.

    Your daughter’s viewers were great!! It’s funny — you can know kids in & out, and yet they find ways of stunning you with comments you never saw coming! Aww, kids. Brilliant.

    p.s. (Nick does have a great way of desensitizing… I totally agree with you and hadn’t ever thought of it that way before. Even the show “Josh & Drake” pushes “making out” to a desensitized level)

    Anyway– kid power! 🙂
    izzy

  2. Steve Richards says:

    Dang, now I wish I watched TV. Anyhow, I rather wish I had seen the KCAs, if for no other reason than a bit of an uneasy chuckle. It sure sounds like the KCAs represent a pre-digested (if you’ll excuse the gross-out reference) representation of how the marketers intend to get to our tweens. Thanks for the warning. I can’t help but wonder about what escalations in intensity await us, when our kids are shrugging off some pretty outrageous stuff, as you told us your wee one did. Thanks for the review and the heads-up, Amy! Great work, as usual.
    –sr

  3. My friend: Your energy & enthusiasm for ‘bucking the tide’, so to speak, is an inspiration…

  4. Like to watch Stargate Atlantis episodes and also Lost. I found your blog on google and read a few of your other posts. I just added you to my Google News Reader. Look forward to reading more from you in the future.

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