Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Dora Cartoon Rocks

Dora the Explorer, Nickelodeon's cartoon preschool heroine, is turning 10 and has a host of marketing partners to help her celebrate. Dora continues to resonate, educate and entertain millions of preschoolers around the world. Dora demo is very important to the bureau and its "Children Count Too" initiative this year.

In the coming months, Dora will appear in everything from public service advertisements for the U.S. Census to a backpack program with Salma Hayek to a seat-belt safety initiative with State Farm to Australian passports each serving a different multicultural marketing purpose, and all before her diamond anniversary this August. Hard to believe a character now seen in 151 countries and 30 different languages might have once been thought of as a marketing challenge just over a decade ago.

As Nickelodeon legend goes, the Viacom kids' network's head of animation, Brown Johnson, was attending a conference about Latinos' portrayal on TV or lack thereof, at the time when a light bulb went off in her head. Creators Chris Gifford and Valerie Walsh Valdes shifted the focus of their original series about a problem solving "Blues Clues" esque bunny rabbit to a 7-year-old Latina girl explorer who could teach preschoolers how to speak Spanish. The show debuted in 2000 as the No. 1 most watched show among preschoolers in all of TV, and has held that status for six of the last 10 years.

Now that Nickelodeon is sharing the Dora brand with a series of new partners, Pam Kaufman, the network's chief marketing officer, described the risks as a lot less challenging this time around.

"Dora the Explorer is a well-recognized character who's bilingual and certainly reaches the young viewers and will help us get the message to the parents and child-care providers of those younger viewers"

The National Parents and Teachers Association and the Children's Defense Fund are also relying on Dora to help prepare the under-5 circuit for preschool with an upcoming "Beyond the Backpack"

"We know through our research that Dora speaks to teaching a second language, problem solving, interpersonal skills and familiarizing kids with computer technology."


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