Warren Buffett Cartoon: 3-5 Minute Financial Literacy Clips

smcUpdate Oct 23, 2011: The Hub Premieres Secret Millionaires Club Special Sept 9, 2011: New launch: Cha-Ching Asia/Cartoon Network  and April 23, 2010: new site Cash Savvy Kids w/experts advising premieres for financial literacy month!

Original Post: July 27, 2009 Talk about Comic Con! Here’s a fun webisode premise in the New York Times yesterday: Warren Buffett playing a ‘secret mentor’ to kids.(Video after the jump showing kids’ behind the scenes)

Mind you, it’d be a very rare 6-11 year old who could tell you who Warren Buffett IS much less appreciate his likeness as a cartoon character to teach financial literacy via kid-vid…so this falls into my ‘hey, whatever works’ category of parent appeal to get the buzz goin,’ but it’s worth a shot!

Hats off to the philanthropic business mogul for lending his likeness and seeding financial responsibility in kids with a whiff of business acumen sans his own personal profit.

My fingers are crossed that something DOES stick in these informal learning blips, and that it’s NOT ‘save the candy’ with which they’ve chosen to launch the first webisode of  “Secret Millionaire’s Club.”

With ‘globesity’ it sure would’ve made more sense to go with an imperiled farmer’s lemon crop for fresh lemonade or strawberry fields instead of candy…After all, as Buffett said in the interview, “Kids are forming habits, and habits are strong things…”

That’s an ‘elephant in the living room’ if I ever saw one.

Buffett’s understated comment is riffing on Samuel Johnson’s quote, “The chains of habit are too weak to be felt until they are too strong to be broken.”

Play it again, Sam.

That not only pertains to kids’ spending, but to habit-forming media and marketing messaging sent to children in surround sound. (princesses, careers, traits, hypersexualized appearances, ahem…candy!)

Logline? Buffett is cast as the ‘secret mentor’ helping the youth group invest…

Along the way he offers entrepreneurial guidance and lifts their know-how explaining how candy sales are seasonal, 40% of profits are gleaned during the 4th quarter holiday season with candy, but on the flipside, they get kudos for insights ‘invest in something everyone loves.’

Again…hmn…Couldn’t they love oranges? Grapes? Nitpicky, I know, but I’m writing my ‘virtual nutrition’ report on our beta tests with kids, so forgive…


On the philanthropy side, cynics will appreciate this is not an ‘investment’ of Buffett’s per se, nor is he receiving voiceover/licensing use fees, Buffett’s simply realizing the potential of a long time pal, animator Andy Heyward of the quality pbs series Liberty’s Kids fame.

(Heyward’s the former head of DIC entertainment which created series like Care Bears, Strawberry Shortcake and Super Mario Bros.; he produced gratis cartoons for Berkshire Hathaway’s annual meetings for years)

It all seems quite positive if handled well…

I’m hoping that much like our friends at Reach & Teach, kids will digest the heftier message in the data nugget being delivered via cartoon media munchie and it will all be so subtle that it will slide down smoothly.

Of course, I also hope animator Andy Heyward keeps a keen eye on the consumption/earning power topicality too, since ‘habits form early.’

defaultmovieJust ask our filmmaker friends at Default: The Student Loan Documentary who are in their final five days of competition on Ideablob to try to impart worldly wisdom to students and win the prize to finish their film. (vote here, now!)

The DEFAULT team is trying to intervene in a culture of ‘debt for goodness sake’ including academic loans in ‘means to an end’ duplicity and student scenarios where kids got sucked into the vortex of  opportunistic ‘Gordon Gecko-style’ greedmongers issuing private loans with terms that were morally bankrupt from the start.

They’ve been using the polling practices of Ideablob and social media to help ‘vote up’ their idea…

Maybe Buffett will take a philanthropic-biz-social media bent to help them finish the film? Or use clips of it as a webisode lesson? Or maybe pair up with a Facebook application like the new Virgance “Lend Me Some Sugar” effort to spread the viral word about their new webisodes while in turn helping ‘greater goods’ (goals of grandeur) in Activism 2.0 style?!

Again, It’s not a pipe dream to connect like-minded ventures…

It’s pragmatic! Economically efficient, even!

As long as we’re all seeking ‘clout’ and creative ways to get the counter-marketing messages out there in productive ways…eh?


In fact, this thorough ITVT article about Buffett’s new internet cartoon clips DOES hint they’ll be leveraging “the power of social networking” to pay it forward, especially since AOL is teaming with digital media agency, MGX Lab, with “games and activities to support each show’s content.”

Makes sense to me to toss some ‘green’ into the ‘green’ theme…eh? Looks like they’re already doing a smidge of that with the ‘Gigi & the Green Team’ bit…

Kind of feels like a “pop goes the culture” parody with the irony of the message turned on itself, akin to Shaping Youth’s ‘reality show’ formats with educational spin about persuasive messaging and media literacy!

Here’s an ITVT excerpt written by Tracy Swedlow:

“Secret Millionaire’s Club,” starring Warren Buffett (as a mentor to a group of children who have adventures in business and learn financial lessons along the way), and “GiGi & the Green Team,” starring Gisele Buendchen (as a supermodel who, at night, becomes a “superhero protector of the environment”–the show is billed as “the first superhero series for girls that will educate, entertain, inspire and empower girls to protect and preserve the environment”), are scheduled to launch on AOL in the fall; and “Little Martha,” starring Martha Stewart (as a 10-year-old version of herself who operates an event planning company from a “tricked-out treehouse” and who teaches children about cooking, crafting and gardening), and “Kosmos” (which was created by Ann Druyan, co-author of Carl Sagan’s popular science book, “Cosmos,” and which stars an animated Sagan in adventures that are billed as teaching “real science”) are scheduled to launch next spring.

“A Squared was created to introduce great entertainment for kids that also serves to teach them about the world around them in fun ways,” A Squared co-founder and co-president, Andy Heyward, said in a prepared statement.

“We are privileged to have some of the premier icons of our time to inspire modern content for children. Each an expert in their respective fields, these celebrities have committed to bringing content with a purpose to kids. Together with AOL, we are reinventing the way multimedia brands are launched to connect with kids throughout their multi-tasking daily lives.”

Here’s the full transcript of Buffett’s interview with CNBC and his appearance on the Squawk Box which shows the ‘world premiere’ of the cartoon in the first two minutes of this video clip, (appx. :50 in, wrapping at 1:59)

And here’s the Huffington Post take on the venture, as well as the NYTimes coverage, and Bloomberg.com’s article on same. As the late, great Walter Cronkite would say, “And that’s the way it is.”

Who knows? Maybe Cronkite will be iconically represented in future Secret Millionaire’s Club webisodes to teach kids about the cost of doing business without proper media literacy?

After all, Cronkite did a voiceover in Heyward’s Liberty’s Kids. Sure would be hard to match that classic, familiar tone…even digitally.

What’s your take on the cartoon clips of Mr. Buffett?

Would your family use them as ‘life lessons?’ Icebreakers? Media munchies?

Could you see them used in educational environs?

Embedded into virtual worlds as informal learning content?

What other topics are ripe for a ‘webisode’ treatment?

Here are more resources from Shaping Youth’s archives to help with financial literacy and connecting the dots for kids. The content’s out there…it’s just diluted by the cacophony of ‘buy, buy, baby!’

Thumbs up to all trying to keep kids ‘fiscal fitness’ a priority. What are your ‘secrets’ for mentoring kids in finance?

Kids’ Financial Literacy Here On Shaping Youth

Holy Budget Balance Batman! Gotham Gazette Game

Crisis of Credit Visualized: A Kid Vid Teaching Tool

Money Mgmt, Allowances, Digital Nagging (Part TWO/PAYjr)

Shaping Youth Interviews PAYjr CEO David Jones, Part ONE: Visa Buxx

Shaping Youth: A Humorous Approach to Student Debt: Credit Cartoons

Shaping Youth: Kids Take Lessons From Financial Debt Binge

Shaping Youth: Virtual Chore Chart Boosts Kids Financially Savvy

Shaping Youth: A Vision of Students Today– Digital Ethnography

Shaping Youth: Web 2.0 Fun Forward, The Machine Is Us/ing Us!

Interactive Games/Virtual Worlds and Financial Literacy for Kids (and updates)

The Hub Premieres Millionaires Club (special on 10-23-11) also, new launch: 9-9-2011 Cartoon Network: Cha-Ching Asia (press release) and 4-23-2010 Cash Savvy Kids

Coming soon? Newcomers Piggbackr and Tykoon entering the fiscal fitness kids’ community space…(last updated 11-28-11)

Budget Hero: American Public Media (story to come tmrw on S.Y.)

Default Movie.com: Student Debt Documentary (interview in March)

Minyanland: Bulls/Bears and virtual critters teach money tips (w/NCEE)

iThryv: Newly launched online banking site: Ages 5-24

FamZoo.com: Virtual Family bank; w/your rules, values & teachable moments, plus a blog w/allowance & finance tips etc. (love the post from the 8 yr old “don’t let the dog eat your money”)

My Reward Board ages 5-12; interactive customizable chore & finance tracking tool

JumpStart.org: National Financial Coalition; Reality Check for Kids

Global Stock Market: Free, realistic game simulation

Moneyopolis: Online game; probono effort by Ernst & Young for middle schoolers

LifeSmarts.org: National Consumers League/high schoolers

Independent Means website & products by Joline Godfrey, including Raising Financially Fit Kids, No More Frogs to Kiss: 9 Ways to Give Economic Power to Girls etc.

Financial Smarts for Students: The JumpStart Coalition

New Moon Money: Book written by girls for girls, from New Moon Publishing

Save for America: School savings curriculum w/online integration

Moon Jar: Award-winning financial literacy toolkit, book, products

Hot Company: “The money game with attitude”

Prosperity4Kids: Financial training products, programs & tools with resource links

Kids.Gov: Official Kids Portal for the U.S. Government on all things ‘money’

Sense & Dollars Online game; middle/high schoolers

Wall Street Wizards.org Urban youth programs, from summer camps to school year financial literacy

Kiplinger’s Money Smart Kids (article compilation)

Financial Literacy for Kids: Money Lessons Start Young (Parenthood)

Girls Inc: Economic Literacy (for adults too!)

Girls Lead Now (formerly Girls Economic Power Day)

Creative Wealth International (formerly The Money Camp)

Cash Savvy Kids (launching via RaisingCEOKids.com network  April 2010)

Case Studies/Life Skills for Youth via MoneyHabitudes.com

Visual Credits: Lead photo via Bloomberg.com screenshot, A Squared screenshot, NYTimes boxed graphic, and video via pbs Money Track



  1. Just received this in my e-mail, so wanted to share. Looks like we should ALL take a peek at this one!

    “For Immediate Release

    Contact: Eric Katzman (212) 421-2700 ekatzman@wise-ny.org


    New York, NY, July 28, 2009 – Working in Support of Education (w!se) has released its Blue Star Financial Literacy Report. The report analyzes the results of w!se’s Financial Literacy Certification Program during the past six years and paints an exciting picture of the effectiveness of financial education in high schools.

    Since the program’s launch, more than 70,000 students were taught personal finance and have taken w!se’s award winning Certification Test. More than 51,000 – 74% of those tested – passed and are now certified as financially literate. (In one sampling of students – pre-instruction and pre-testing, some posted scores as low 3%.)

    “This report demonstrates that education can and does improve financial literacy,” said Phyllis Frankfort, President and CEO of w!se. “This is critical, because just as the current financial crisis has taught us that financial illiteracy is one of its root causes, so must financial education be one of its cures.”

    The report also confirms that financial education – a course or comprehensive unit on personal finance – affects personal behavior, having a high and positive impact on key behavioral indicators. As a result of participating in the program, more students are budgeting, using banks, saving money, setting financial goals, comparing prices and talking about money matters (with family). In 2007-2008, for example, students evidenced a 14% increase in savings as a consequence of instruction, demonstrating that the program strongly affects attitudes towards thrift. Students also reported an 18-20% increase in financial goal setting post-instruction, a recognized barometer of sound financial management in the future.

    “This evidence that financial education has a positive impact on behavior is particularly impressive,” commented Michael Stanzione, Principal of the High School of Economics & Finance in New York City. “As educators, it is critical, given the country’s financial crises, that one of our goals must be to help students become not just financially literate, but financially fluent. This is the only way to prevent them from repeating the mistakes of their parent’s generation. w!se, with its Financial Literacy Certification Program is leading the way in helping high schools achieve this goal.”

    The Blue Star Financial Literacy Report is attached electronically to this press release. If you have any questions about the report or the program, please contact Eric Katzman at 212-421-2700 or via e-mail at ekatzman@wise-ny.org.

    The Financial Literacy Certification Program is supported by leading U.S. financial institutions including The McGraw-Hill Companies, Citi Foundation, The JPMorgan Chase Foundation, The Allstate Foundation, GE Money, New York State Banking Department, NYSE Foundation, Inc., The Muriel F. Siebert Foundation, Klaus & Associates, M&T Bank & The Charles & Helen Schwab Foundation. Additional support is provided by American Banker, Bank of Smithtown, Department of Education (EEE), Federal Reserve Bank of New York, Financial Planning Association of Monterey, CA, The Financial Planning Association of New York The Foundation for Financial Literacy, The Foundation for Investor Education, Hudson River Bank and Trust Company Foundation, Monterey Federal Credit Union, Museum of American Finance, New York City Department of Consumer Affairs, The New York State Department of Education, The New York Credit Union Foundation, New York City Education Department, Rabobank Group, Signature Bank and the U.S. Social Security Administration.

    w!se – Working In Support of Education – is an educational 501(c)3 nonprofit dedicated to providing educational support services nationwide, building financial literacy, fostering business and social entrepreneurship, and preparing students for college and the global workplace.

  2. According to me many people are investing there money in different places, but they don’t have proper knowledge about it. People should not invest blindly or without any knowledge otherwise there may be some chances of risk. First step is to see, second is to check, third is to inspect, forth is to interrogate and finally the fifth is to decide by following this step we can increase our literacy of financial matters. For more details on Financial Illiteracy refer http://www.prime-targeting.com/get-rid-from-financial-illiteracy/
    .-= Mack jackson´s last blog ..Get Rid From Financial Illiteracy =-.

  3. Amy Jussel says

    @MackJackson…Not sure about your headline/site, etc. Did you mean “Get Rid OF?” If so, heartily disagree…your opening line says “I know the opening title may heart your ego” (again, did you mean HURT?) If you’re going to use spambots to drive traffic you might want to add spellcheck. Not meant to be harsh, just be advised we don’t take kindly to sales spam here…

    Meanwhile, readers, here is the latest news along the kids financial literacy lines about virtual world Minyanland.com in partnership with Random House (via Ypulse news)

    “July 28, 2009 MinyanLand, Random House Launch Cross-Promotion

    A new cross-promotional campaign inside MinyanLand launched today.

    The character-themed scavenger hunt plays off the storyline from the just-released kid’s book Rapacia: The Second Circle of Heck from author Dale E. Basye and publisher Random House.

    Rapacia went on sale today and as part of the book’s marketing, the scavenger hunt on MinyanLand will run through the month of August.

    Laurie Petersen, General Manager of Minyanville Family Media, told us (VWN) that from MinyanLand’s standpoint, the promotion “is a revenue-generator and also gives us some unique programming.” Petersen says the site has done scavenger hunts tied to holidays in the past and that users, in Petersen’s words, “love them.”

    Cover From the publisher’s standpoint, the campaign hopes to build awareness of the book by getting kids interacting with the characters.

    Petersen also detailed growth at MinyanLand, saying registered users had passed the 400,000 threshold and were “nearly at the 450,000-Critter mark.”

  4. i am quite new to book marketing and i have to master that stuff too;;.

  5. It’s great to let your child learn at their early stage regarding financial literacy, especially if it is from Warren Buffett makes it more exciting for them by making a cartoon show, I hope lots of people do this way. It is better to let them watch this rather than any r18 cartoons.

Speak Your Mind