Magazine article Marketing

Kids with Attitude

Magazine article Marketing

Kids with Attitude

Article excerpt

Pester power is still alive and kicking, as the BBC's interactive exhibition -- the Big Bash -- has proved. Caroline Laitner looks at the show and asks kids what they think of ads aimed at them

The idea of attempting to hold a large, interactive exhibition primarily aimed at children was always going to be risky. But for BBC Haymarket Exhibitions, which organised the BBC's Big Bash, the risk seems to have paid off. Research shows 96% of kids who attended the show want to return next year.

Gillian Laskier, publishing director of BBC Magazines, attributes the show's success to the BBC's involvement. "Kids of all ages are initially attracted due to the BBC presence, which sets the flavour of the show. The main problem in researching kids is that they tend to say what they think you will want to hear. The Big Bash is of as much use to us as a major qualitative piece of research, with the added value of being able to see the responses first hand".

Josie Robson, PR consultant for the Daily Telegraph, describes the event as an "ideal opportunity for us to carry out market research for our new venture, the Electronic Young Telegraph". Karen Smart, of Barclays Bank's personal sector sales department, sees it as "an ideal platform from which to show our products, and a useful PR exercise for the youth market".

Children are not the only targets at the Big Bash. Around 83% of the children there were accompanied by adults, and this was anticipated by exhibitors. Kim Wills, hospitality and marketing manager for Cellnet, says that games and prizes on a stand ensure that the kids come. "The adults soon follow. Our main aim in exhibiting at the Big Bash was to target the parents -- we will certainly be back next year".

Though only 11% of visitors surveyed at the exhibition attended specifically to make a purchase, 75% bought something, with 25% spending between [pounds]10 and [pounds]50. Does this indicate pester power at work? "We aimed to target parents, not children, but pester power was a consideration," says Grace McCarthy, product manager at Center Parcs.

Jenny Stuart, organiser of Radio 4 promotions identifies what could be seen as the antithesis of pester power -- with adults doing the pestering. "Radio 4 was at the BBC's Big Bash to spread the word that we are airing children's programmes for the first time. Adults like to see the kids in their care having fun, and learning. By having a stand aimed at kids we met Radio 4-listening parents and teachers, and encouraged them to tell their kids about our new style of programmes".

Richard Dewhurst, product manager of JW Spear and Sons, describes the 1994 Big Bash as a "learning experience". "Our stand was run like a toy shop, and this approach was too much like a toy fair for trade customers. Next year we want a themed stage, someone with a mike to attract attention, demos, character appearances and product trials. It is a great way to see customer reactions in a more natural and realistic way than focus groups or questionnaires".

Many exhibitors have requested larger stands for next year. The West Midland police force is thinking of having a portable cave, offering kids a chance to go caving, and the Royal Life Saving Society has requested space for a pool.

But a few of the exhibitors suggested that the enormous success of the show could have its down side: "There is an absolute frenzy of selling going on, so you can not be sure that your message has been received clearly," says Colin Campbell, a publisher at Future Publishing.

"However, computer magazines are generally read by teenage boys, so the Big Bash gave us a chance to target girls, and younger boys," he adds. …

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