The N Makes the Teen Scene

6/17/2005 8:00 PM Eastern

High-school kids already spend much of the summertime hanging out in shopping malls. But when cast members from The N's Degrassi: the Next Generation series show up, the lines can be overwhelming.

“Kids drove up to seven hours to meet the stars. When they got there, they lined up four to five hours before the booth opened,” said Noggin director of marketing Denielle Bertarelli, referring to last summer's “The Scene Tour.”

Bertarelli expects more of the same this summer as The N, the nighttime teen block of Nickelodeon spinoff Noggin, sponsors mall operator General Growth Properties's The Scene Tour for a second year in a row. The tour, which kicks off July 16 in Orlando, Fla., will hit 12 different malls, ending at The Mall in Columbia, Md., on October 1.

The Scene Tour will feature several other advertisers that will push products at various booths, including Pepsi, Sony, publication CosmoGIRL!, Oxford School & Office Products, Joico, The Ford Motor Fund, So You Want to be a Model and the DK BMX Bike Team.

But cast members from Degrassi: The Next Generation— two of whom will be featured at each stop on the tour — were last year's biggest draw.

Degrassi: The Next Generation has been a breakout hit for The N. The program — a spinoff from a franchise about a group of kids that debuted in Canada some 25 years ago and was later popular on PBS — debuted on The N in 2002.

Viewers may be drawn to some of the controversial storylines in Degrassi, which hasn't shied away from addressing sensitive and provocative issues. The N said the July 1 Degrassi episode, the first of five installments that month from the show's fourth season, will tackle the issue of teens and oral sex.

The N will also display signs touting the name of the local cable operators at each of the stops for The Scene Tour, which will predominantly hit Comcast Corp. markets, including Orlando, San Francisco, Seattle, Chicago, New Jersey and Baltimore/Washington D.C. It will also roll into Los Angeles and Detroit, as well as Cox Communications Inc. markets in Las Vegas and Tuscon, Ariz.

Bertarelli said The N doesn't generate a profit from the mall tour. So why do it?

“Marketing,” Bertarelli said. “It's a great way for us to build buzz in the local market. It's also a way for us to support our cable operators.”

Noggin has a broader relationship with GGP. Last year, Noggin cut a deal with the mall operator to build “Club Noggin” activity centers at its facilities, where parents can bring preschool kids ages 3 o 6 for interactive lessons, songs, games and videos that feature characters from Noggin shows such as Miffy and Friends, Franklin, Tweenies and Maisy.

Bertarelli said The N will run a separate mall tour this summer with Simon Mall Group, sponsoring its “The Simon D Tour,” a concert tour of several malls. The tour will tout The N's Instant Star drama series, which follows the life of a 15-year-old after she wins an American Idol-type talent competition, and debuts on July 1.

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