MSOs looking to drive cable-modem penetration have become more creative in their efforts to reach beyond the early-adopter market of adult male technophiles.
One case in point: Comcast Corp.'s online communications division has teamed up with Nickelodeon, using the network's SpongeBob SquarePants
to draw families to mall-based kiosks that promote its Comcast@Home high-speed data service.
The costumed character was scheduled this month to make appearances in three malls in Florida, New Jersey and Maryland. His travels are part of a larger joint promotional campaign to mark Nickelodeon's 14th annual Kids' Choice Awards, set to air this Saturday (April 21) at 8 p.m. EDT.
The Comcast-Nickelodeon joint promotion is a month long event, Comcast Online national retail marketing director Chris Dolan said. The program is part of the MSO's continuing strategy of selling Comcast@Home and Comcast Digital Cable through mall-based kiosks.
The Kids' Choice
promotion allows children who visit one of 14 Comcast kiosks in Michigan, Florida, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Maryland or the Washington, D.C., area to enter a contest to win a computer, software or a free subscription to Nickelodeon
Nick also helped Comcast add pages to its Web site (comcastonline.com) designed to lure customers to its retail kiosks, where they can test-drive the broadband capabilities of Nickelodeon Online (nick.com).
Because Nick can't collect data from children over the Internet, families must physically visit the Comcast kiosks to enter the promotional contest, said Nickelodeon marketing manager Anthony Barton.
Children appreciate the rich-media content available via broadband perhaps even more than adults do, noted Comcast Online national director of marketing Suzanne McFadden.
"Families are a very good target for cable modems," she said. "Children's patience isn't large. They're accustomed to video games and full-motion video."
To help promote the upcoming Kids' Choice Awards, Nick.com will offer streaming video of archival footage from past awards shows, video messaging and a live Webcast from the show, said Nick director of affiliate marketing Yvonne Parish.
The rich-media content will also be available at the Comcast kiosks for demonstration purpose. The MSO intends to use those kiosks not just to promote high-speed Internet service, but to sign customers on the spot.
"We take sales right at the kiosk," McFadden said. Because subscribers can pick up a self-installation kit right there, she said, they don't need to phone a Comcast call center to activate their new account.
Nickelodeon helped design point-of-sale posters to catch shoppers' attention as they walk through the mall. But the big draw seems to be the live costumed characters.
When SpongeBob SquarePants visited a Maryland mall earlier this month, the Comcast kiosk there tripled sales for the weekend, McFadden said.
"He drew more traffic than the Easter Bunny," she boasted.
And cable operators shouldn't underestimate the buying power of Nick fans, even if they're too young to make the purchases themselves.
"Kids are big influencers," said Nickelodeon vice president of affiliate marketing Kathy Kane. "Kids can really drive that [buying] decision."