Nickelodeon knows that kids can influence more than just
what show the family watches next on television. Even young children can have an impact on
major family purchases, from cars to personal computers, according to Nickelodeon
spokesman Dan Martinsen.
That's a major reason why Gateway Inc. announced a
strategic, three-year marketing alliance with Nickelodeon earlier this month to create PCs
branded with the network's popular Blue's Clues and Rugrats cartoon
"We'll be aggressively promoting these for the
holidays" in television and print ads, Gateway spokesman Greg Lund said. In addition,
the company will produce 60-second on-air spots for Nickelodeon with computer tips aimed
"There are a lot of synergies between us," Lund
said of Gateway's partnership with Nickelodeon. "We're a research-based
company. We talk to about 50,000 customers a day. And Nickelodeon is the same way:
Everything they do is based on research."
The two Nick-branded computers are fully functional models
geared for adults, Lund was quick to point out, so kids won't grow out of them and
the entire family can use them.
The Rugrats and Blue's Clues edition
"Astro" computers will be sold for $898 with pre-loaded computer software based
on the respective shows, plus a branded mouse and a character-based "collar"
that wraps around the computer screen.
"We still find that a driver for first-time buyers is
parents wanting to give kids all of the advantages they can," Lund said. "Young
people are very much more attuned to technology."
As part of the new marketing alliance, Gateway has agreed
to sponsor Nickelodeon's new musical stage tour, Blue's Clues Live.
Gateway represents Nickelodeon's "most
significant licensing partnership to date," Nickelodeon chief operating officer Jeff
Dunn said in a press release.
In addition to Gateway, a number of other merchandisers
will promote Nickelodeon's brands during the holidays.
Mattel Media, for example, is marketing a "Nick
Click" digital camera and CD-ROM that allows kids to take digital photos, upload them
into a computer and integrate them with characters from eight Nickelodeon shows.
And the "Goodnight Blue" plush toy from Mattel
Inc.'s Fisher-Price unit closes her eyes as Blue's Clues fans read her an
interactive bedtime story.
Other holiday toys range from a Blue's Clues child-sized
thinking chair -- designed to look like the one used by Steve, the show's host -- to
a Blue's Big Pajama Party home video.
And just in case the displays at the toy stores and video
shops aren't enough to trigger holiday spending sprees among parents across the
country, Nickelodeon paraded Blue and Steve down New York City's Broadway last
Thursday in their first appearance in Macy's annual Thanksgiving Day Parade.