Population Statistic: Read. React. Repeat.
Tuesday, April 14, 2021

Fearing that its overemphasis on its Princesses franchise has made it too much of a girl’s club, Disney is doubling-down on efforts to lure tween boys back into its programming fold. Spearheading this effort is researcher Kelly Peña, designated “kid whisperer” in discerning what resonates with today’s young lads:

Ms. Peña and her team of anthropologists have spent 18 months peering inside the heads of incommunicative boys in search of just that kind of psychological nugget. Disney is relying on her insights to create new entertainment for boys 6 to 14, a group that Disney used to own way back in the days of “Davy Crockett” but that has wandered in the age of more girl-friendly Disney fare like “Hannah Montana.”

Children can already see the results of Ms. Peña’s scrutiny on Disney XD, a new cable channel and Web site (disney.go.com/disneyxd). It’s no accident, for instance, that the central character on “Aaron Stone” is a mediocre basketball player. Ms. Peña, 45, told producers that boys identify with protagonists who try hard to grow. “Winning isn’t nearly as important to boys as Hollywood thinks,” she said.

Actors have been instructed to tote their skateboards around with the bottoms facing outward. (Boys in real life carry them that way to display the personalization, Ms. Peña found.) The games portion of the Disney XD Web site now features prominent trophy cases. (It’s less about the level reached in the game and more about sharing small achievements, research showed.)

It’s amusing that they’re examining kids “in the wild” as if they were incomprehensible little beasts. If they’re looking for another juvenile-minded adult to cull demographic data, I’m available!

It’s a fine line for Disney to walk, because when you get right down to it, little boys like rougher fare than their female counterparts, i.e. action/adventure with at least a hint of violence (even softened for age-appropriateness). No matter how you slice it, that clashes with the fundamental Disney brand; it’s hard to maintain a cuddly family-friendly image by simultaneously promoting, say, wrestling or even superheroes. They could just invent a separate imprint for boy-centric stuff, similar to what they did on the movie-studio level long ago (Miramax, etc.), but that sort of defeats the purpose.

by Costa Tsiokos, Tue 04/14/2009 12:05:53 PM
Category: Advert./Mktg., Pop Culture, Society, TV
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offer they could refuse
In an effort to break through the clutter of videogame promotional giveaways, EA unwittingly resorted to street-weapon contraband:

The game in question: Godfather II, a Grand Theft Auto-style adventure based on the famous movie. The offending item: a set of brass knuckles, mailed to video games journalists together with other goodies including a cigar, a silk handkerchief, and a book of matches. But while it nicely complements the game’s mafiosi theme, it also had the unfortunate side-effect of turning recipients of the mailing into criminals, as mere possession of brass knuckles is illegal in many states and can carry hefty penalties.

I imagine the marketing wonks at Electronic Arts figured the brass handgear would be the least-questionable option. Likely rejected trinkets: An authentic-looking handgun, and probably a severed horse’s head (but only because of shipping logistics).

Actually, has anyone checked on the origin of that swag-box cigar? Since part of “The Godfather II” takes place in Cuba, you never know if EA’s lack of due diligence led to further authenticity in the form of a genuine Cuban stogie — which of course would be illegal in the United States.

by Costa Tsiokos, Tue 04/14/2009 11:35:11 AM
Category: Advert./Mktg., Movies, True Crime, Videogames
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It’s come to this: The most recent piece of comment-spam for this blog — that was snagged instantly by Akismet, naturally — was delivered in the form of an honest-to-goodness joke. And here it is:

Two old ladies were outside their nursing home, having a smoke when it started to rain. One of the ladies pulled out a condom, cut off the end, put it over her cigarette and continued smoking.

Lady 1: What’s that?
Lady 2: A condom. This way my cigarette doesn’t get wet.
Lady 1: Where did you get it?
Lady 2: You can get them at any drugstore.

The next day… Lady 1 hobbles herself into the local drugstore and announces to the pharmacist that she wants a box of condoms. The guy looks at her kind of strangely (she is, after all, over 80 years of age), but politely asks what brand she prefers.

Lady 1: It doesn’t matter as long as it fits a Camel.

find cheap cigarettes.

With that post-script of cheap cigarettes, of course, delivering the spam-link payload (which I’m obviously not going to reproduce here).

Really impressive. I recognize the joke, as it’s a rather old one, so in a way, this is not much different than the typical content-scraping spambots do in their attempts to break through the filtering technology. But at least it beats the usual gobbledygook of words/characters that usually shows up in the caught-spam queue. And take note: Combining cigarette-keyworded joke material with a cigarette-related hyperlink is an attempt at Google-like relevance — God help use, the spammers are becoming SEO-conscious!

Not that I’m condoning this activity. Spam is an established pain in the ass, and the less of it that even originates, the better. But as long as it never successfully lands on my site, I can afford the luxury of marveling at this, one of the more creative attempts.

by Costa Tsiokos, Tue 04/14/2009 10:53:47 AM
Category: Bloggin', Comedy, Creative
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