Nickelodeon launched a multimillion-dollar advertising
campaign dubbed "Nick Nation" last week, targeted to kids, parents and
The branding campaign -- which launched with TV spots in
New York and Los Angeles, expanding to 15 more markets next Monday (Nov. 1) -- aims to
reinforce the network's philosophy of putting kids first.
"We set out to get the most magnificent footage of
kids everywhere," senior vice president of brand and franchise marketing Ruth Sarlin
The splashy spots incorporate a mix of different
directorial styles for a collage effect, showing "every kind of kid doing every kind
of thing in every kind of place," she said. The ads also feature popular cartoon
characters from Nick hits Catdog, Blue's Clues and Rugrats.
New York-based ad agency Kidvertisers created the Nick
Nation concept and campaign. The network had worked with Kidvertisers in the past on
branding efforts for Nick Jr.
The network's investment in the Nick Nation branding
effort "far surpasses anything we've done in the past," Sarlin said, adding
that the fall campaign alone boasts a media value of $30 million. A spokeswoman for the
network estimated that outside media buys for the eight-week campaign cost $12 million.
The network will carry the Nick Nation branding at least
through the year 2000, then re-evaluate it to see whether it will be extended.
"We believe this idea has legs that will take us as
far as we want to go," Sarlin said.
As a backdrop to the Nick Nation campaign, the network
created a theme song, with new lyrics set to traditional Cajun children's tune
Nickelodeon will create a number of versions of the anthem
for use in different spots. For its on-air spot, for example, percussion group Stomp
developed its own adaptation of the song. And for phase two of the Nick Nation campaign,
Nickelodeon's recently organized house band -- led by David Letterman cohort Paul
Shaffer -- will perform its rendition.
The first TV spots will run during Major League
Baseball's World Series, as well as top-rated primetime shows such as ER, Ally
McBeal, Friends and The Practice, plus talk shows including Today,
The Rosie O'Donnell Show and The Late Show with David Letterman.
Nickelodeon will also back the branding efforts with print
and outdoor ads, plus cross-channel spots on other Viacom Inc. networks and tie-ins with
When Nickelodeon was created 20 years ago, the cable
channel's lineup didn't include much competition for a network devoted to
children. While Sarlin admitted that the growing competitive landscape played a role in
Nickelodeon's strategic thinking, she said it wasn't the driving factor behind
the new branding campaign.
Sarlin said one of the long-term goals of the Nick Nation
branding effort is to remind potential business partners that Nickelodeon has grown beyond
just the cable network. It already offers its larger advertisers packages that encompass
multiple outlets, such as the Nickelodeon-branded magazines.