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Salem Prism Digital


Pushing the boundaries

Happy Christmas! Another year has come and gone. Another tough one for many, who will be hoping that the last-minute Christmas surge will take them over the line. And for those who have had a great year, it will be no time for complacency as we enter 2014 and the growth targets are set out by the FD for the coming year. While more people have embraced the digital opportunities that have developed over recent years, it is likely that we will continue


to see similar media plans laid down for the year ahead. With TV the driving force, and a smattering of digital promotions and advertising to compliment it, another 12 months might look just the same as those gone by. But with increased consumer optimism and

growth forecast for the economy, 2014 should be the year to try more new things; dare to be different from the crowd. Many successes of adult brands have been driven by daring to be different. Who would have through Skoda being seen as a cake would turn around their fortunes after so many years as a laughing stock? Where budgets are tight for many, creativity can still push the boundaries. Coupled with media flexibility with most media owners between now and next September, 2014 should be a year of invention. Whilst the majority of sales come in the last

quarter, the majority of the year is open not only for marketing kids’ birthdays but for brand building in the run-up to Christmas. Developing long-term partnerships with a

variety of media owners across the year can be a win-win for both, with the availability of inventory and the opportunity to try new things

Gottlieb Global Toy Experts

Children and the shrinking ocean of time

It occurred to me the other day that all of us are dependent upon one thing; children having the time to play. Whether you design apps, develop playgrounds, manufacture toys, create video games or produce children’s media, you are dependent upon available time. In a sense, available time is the ocean in which we swim. The challenge for all of us is that while the time to play, particularly for children, has shrunk, the availability of play has grown exponentially. To continue with the metaphor, as our ocean has filled up with more and more species (some of them exotic looking), the water level has receded. In the mid-20th century, traditional toys and games were the only game in time. In the last quarter of the 20th century, video games were added to the mix and as a result, the toy industry had to deal with a rapidly growing play alternative that initially ate arcade quarters and eventually $100 bills as consoles came into fashion. The toy industry as a whole felt the effects while some formerly popular categories like plastic model kits and paints almost became extinct. In the 21st century, we have seen a plethora of

mobile play platforms and an explosion in apps. According to the website, there are over 170,000 game apps available on the market. In fact, in September alone there were almost 4,000 new game app submissions. It’s gotten pretty crowded in our ocean, but

the real problem is that the ocean is drying up. Simply put, kids don’t get anywhere the amount of playtime that most of us got as children. According to Meryl Neiman, CEO of Playdate Planet, unstructured play for children has reduced by eight hours over the last 20 years. Simply put; play is in decline at the same time that there is more supply of play than there is demand. Why the decline in the time to play? One

reason is simply that many parents and schools see play as a waste of time for children who are competing for the best colleges. How bad is it? The Washington DC school system allocates 15 minutes a day for recess and they are not untypical. Compare this to Finland where children go outside to play every other hour. By the way, Finland has the most successful education system in the world. Another reason play is in decline is because of

fear. Fear that children will hurt themselves and fear that parents will sue. Weber Middle School on Long Island has outlawed all games played with a ball. As CBS put it, the school has “instituted a ban on footballs, baseballs, lacrosse balls, or anything that might hurt someone on school grounds.” Cartwheels and tag are also verboten. Unfortunately, Weber Middle School is not alone. Finally, children are so over-scheduled, have so much homework and are driven to so many scheduled events (soccer, music practice, a play date, etc.) that they have to find time to play when they can (like in the back seat of the car).

with the audience in advance of the key 4th quarter trading season. If you would like to do something different

with your marketing next year, we are offering free creative workshops for marketing teams in the New Year. These will focus on us sharing years of experience of working with kids over the past 20 years, using insight and psychological profiling to ensure that you get the best understanding of your target audience, whether that be pre-school, boys, girls, tweens etc. During the sessions, we will also look at the key differences between TV viewing and online viewing, as well as the use of talent, in order to get the most out of your communication. This should be as useful for those of you who have kids to the teams made of many who don’t. With our Christmas gift opportunity open to all, do get in contact sooner rather than later to arrange your session/day; dan@ I hope you all have a very relaxing Christmas, and look forward to sharing more with you in the New Year.

Unstructured play is also in a sorry state. Most

of us remember simply running out the door and staying out most of the day playing various games. Today, parents operate like the Greek gods of old. Children play but when a fight breaks out, a parent suddenly appears to solve the problem and then disappears. As a result, kids are not getting the necessary life lessons in settling their own problems. Play, and particularly unstructured play, is

important for a number of reasons: It teaches limits; yes, falling off the monkey bars can hurt, but it teaches assessing risk. It teaches democracy. Left alone, children have to make their own rules, enforce those rules, make judgments and enforce their decisions. It makes for physically healthier children. That’s

a given but think about this… It makes for smarter children. Play, particularly

unstructured play, teaches emotional intelligence (how to get along with others), as well as leadership, not to mention physics. Also, getting some education and running off some anxiety can make for children who actually pay attention in the classroom. We can all sit around and allow our ocean of time to evaporate or we can do something, like be an advocate for play and free play. On your own you can lobby your school or district to encourage free play. On a grander scale, how about coming together to create an organisation that advocates for play or supporting those who are already doing so like KaBOOM! in the US, a non-profit that has as its goal a playground within in one block of every child. We live and die with play time. Let’s do something.

Do you have a response to, or opinion on any of our Viewpoint articles? Email Toyworld 27

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