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Reality Marketing Story Part II: Four Lessons on Branding, Logo Creation, and PR

Here's the second installment of our ongoing as-it-happens Case Study on an integrated marketing campaign.

This week we caught up with Jeanniey Mullen in LA where she was on site for the taping of the first episode of The JammXKids, new the direct-to-DVD kids' TV series her agency The Lift Network is handling marketing for.

She asked both her 5-year-old daughter and her mother to accompany her there “as a built-in focus group. I wanted people who would be brutally honest with me to see it. I wanted to know what we were up against in the real world,” explains Mullen.

So far the real world's had four tough lessons for her team as they launch the new brand:

Lesson #1: Run brand names past your demographic prior to launch

The producers of the show came to Mullen and her team with a concept. "They liked the word 'jam' because they felt it was a timeless word that communicated 'dance,' so initially the title of the show was 'Get Up and Jam."

At her 5-year-old daughter's sleepover, Mullen decided to ask the kids, "'What do you think when you hear 'Get Up and Jam'?"

One little girl replied, "Is there going to be peanut butter?"

This sent all parties involved into a whirlwind of brainstorming, which eventually resulted in the series being renamed, "The JammXKids."

"Later, when I asked the same little girl what she thought about 'JammXkids' she said, 'Cool!" says Mullen.

Lesson #2: Logo design for kids is harder than you think

"For corporate logos," Mullen says, "you follow the rules and guidelines. Kids entertainment breaks all the rules. It has to appeal to the parents, it has to appeal to the kids."

In competitive research, "We learned that there really was no logo standard," says Mullen. Broadway Kids, Kids Bop and Kids Dance Party, "All have logos that are just names. There is no excitement and enthusiasm." Plus, it had to communicate:
-A Hip Hop style

"In addition to appealing to parents, the logo has to appeal to kids," says Mullen. "So things have to be very REAL. Kids think of things differently. They are much more concrete. They are not going to get subtlety and innuendo. It's about face value. So the logo had to communicate all of this."

One final logo challenge: "We loved the name The JammXKids," says Mullen, but the challenge was-- it's really long. "We knew we were going to need an icon to stand for the whole thing, like 'JLo' or an image."

Ultimately the logo design team chose an urban/graffiti feel for the typeface and focused on the X element because it is used in the production. “To supply the action, I designed a jumping, bouncing note that could be used with the type or alone,” explains John, the designer who worked on the project.

Lesson #3. Triple check the target demographic with your client

"Our perception," says Mullen, "from reading the script, was that this show was for 4-8-year olds. And the writer has 3 young kids. I'm sure he read it to them many many times. Everyone thought it was a product for about this age range."

But, casting had selected three kids who were 15. "When we saw the cast and the production, and edits made to the script since they last sent it to us, we realized we were WAY off. The target age was really 6ish to 16, and the message and plans had to be supplemented to change."

Mullen confirmed this suspicion with an on-site focus group. "Since I couldn't get to email or any of our tools for modeling, I conducted a poll of the 20-30 extras to solicit their impromptu feedback."

All the marketing research they had done and plans had been centered around the younger age range. Based on what Mullen discovered, that all needed to change, dividing the marketing targets into 3 groups:

a. Younger "emulators" who will look up to the cast members and aspire to be like them
b. Peer "relators" who will identify with the cast members
c. Parents of all, who would foot the bill to purchase the DVDs

Lesson #4. PR: Reporters go online instead of calling

"The biggest challenge we've had on this project," says Mullen, "is that this is a huge multichannel initiative. Each activity and event has to build on the next, and each thing is affected by the others."

Mullen's discovered the channels are linked in unexpected ways.

"For instance, we really didn't see the corporate PR release and the web site as closely linked initiatives," says Mullen. But it turns out that they were.

"We worked with the PR group to put out a corporate press release-- not the one to the news media, but to industry publications like the Hollywood Reporter. At the same time we put up a very basic web page, with just the logo and a contact link."

"Well, most of the response generated since the press release hit has come via the web site. We've gotten several emails. It's averaging about 2 per day."

Inquiries have come from both the national and local level, including a cable network that has expressed an interest in licensing the show and a restaurant chain who wants The JammXKids to do concerts. “It suprises me that with so little information in the market about The JammXkids we are getting such serious interest.” said Mullen.

So, if Mullen had known people would ignore the contact info on the press release and go directly to the website for more, would she have put more information up on the site?

"Actually no," she says. "At this stage, it's almost better being elusive. We can make meetings with people to talk, and shape our presentation around the audience. People don't get preconceived notions."



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