One Graham's View

Sunday, August 05, 2007

Underdog and advertising overlords

Good evening,

Never fear…you know who is here.”

Well, I’ve got to hand it to the marketing masterminds at Disney. They have a finely tuned and well funded promotional team at work for them.

My point of reference is the just-released movie Underdog. I’m in my mid-40s and remember this show on Saturday mornings when I was a kid. That was back in the late 1960s and early 1970s. Since then, the only time I saw or heard of Underdog was an ad that used to run in the back of Rolling Stone or other similar publications featuring a rumpled Underdog character on the front of a t-shirt or sweatshirt.

Now, here we are in 2007 and I’ve got a 5-year old son who is leaping with his favorite stuffies, saying, “Underdog is here.” It isn’t just playing it once or twice, he does this several times during the day, or at least says that line. This isn’t even taking into account how animated he gets when those movie trailers come on television.

Where has he heard about Underdog if the cartoon hasn’t been running on the regular kid vid channels? That leaves only the heavy media blitz Disney has been using to promote this film. And, smartly, they have been running the ads on not only the kid channels like Disney and Nickelodeon, but also on about any other local outlet they could buy advertising space from, which means most of them.

Don’t get me wrong. I think the movie sounds like a fun romp and I want to make sure I’m with the little dude when he goes to see it. I’m just seeing how Disney has resurrected an old Saturday morning cartoon with a likeable character and given it a new and, most notably, live action representation to build a whole new following for Underdog.

I don’t know how much the advertising budget was for this movie, but it was no doubt in the millions, as they have really saturated the television channels with the various trailers of the movie. I also feel certain that they will see a big return for the advertisement investment. If this movie scores big at the box office, which I predict it will, I’d say we’re in for more Underdog movies. Who knows, they might already be filming the sequel as you read this, just banking on the success of the initial launch.

The bottom line is this, if you invest heavily to build a name and have the bucks to fund the onslaught of advertising it will take to do this, you can probably bank on success. Add to this that when you work to bring about loyalty fueled by the patronage of the parents with familiar ties to the character, then you could probably make and sell anything that strikes the nerve of fond, nostalgic reminiscence.

Underdog marketing is not alone. Austin can easily sing along with other familiar jingles that have bombared his young mind. One of his favorites is a Dodge truck ad that says, “Bigger in Texas, better in a Dodge.” When that ad’s opening sounds play, he will jump up and say, “Daddy, our song.” I don’t recall when that became our song, but it no doubt has become such. I have also noticed him chiming in with the “Thanks, By Owner” ads.

The above examples are just more proof of what advertisers know very well. Kids minds are like sponges. Throw something at them that appeals to them and they are going to remember it. And, when it comes down to it, these kids are going to grab mommy and daddy by the wallet and head out to find the product.


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