Like consumers, marketers and media agencies have their own
looming Black Friday-like shopping days when they hope to get the best bang for
their holiday programming buck.
And those that haven't already bought commercial time
on the slew of upcoming annual kids' holiday shows should be checking
their list and seeking out time on animated airings in late November and early
December, which actually seem to draw better than those airing in the two weeks
leading into Christmas. Doing so allows marketers to reach beyond the kids to
the coveted gift-buying decision makers: parents, and most notably, moms.
ABC kicked things off on Halloween night with its annual
airing of It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown, and kids and parents flocked
to the perennial. The telecast drew 8 million viewers, up 8% from last year's
airing, along with a 2.7 18-49 demo rating, up 17%. It also drew 1 million kids
ABC and CBS offer broadcast's biggest selection of kids'
classic holiday fare, airing between Thanksgiving night and Christmas.
One annual animated show advertisers should seek is Rudolph
the Red-Nosed Reindeer on CBS. The network aired it twice last year; the Nov.
29 telecast drew an eye-popping 12.6 million viewers and a 4.0 18-49 demo
rating. It was watched by 2.3 million kids age 2-11 and 3 million women 18-49. The
second Rudolph airing, on Dec. 10,
drew a much smaller 5 million viewers and a 1.8 18-49 rating but still pulled
in 1.4 million kids and 1.2 million women 18-49. This year, CBS will air Rudolph first on Dec. 4.
Amy Sotiridy, senior VP and director of national broadcast
at media agency Initiative, says that while family-friendly holiday programming
is a desirable buy for marketers looking to reach moms, doing so before those
last two weeks makes economic sense.
"For our client Hasbro, we have had a full-court press
going, on, beginning last month," Sotiridy says. "But that
programming is an efficient way to target women. These classics play to their
feeling of nostalgia during the holidays as many of the adults remember
watching these shows as kids."
Brad Adgate, senior VP of research at Horizon Media, says
most of these classics endure because as kids grow, a new generation moves in
to replace them. "Every year, a new group of kids at the lower end of the
age group begins watching for the first time-and their parents come along with
them," he says.
While the airdates for these ad placements might not matter as
much for packaged goods advertisers, toy manufacturers clearly need to have
reached their target audience of credit card-carrying moms before Black Friday.
"For [us], the timing of holiday advertising is important,"
says Sotiridy. "When you get into December it is less desirable. But it does
depend on an advertiser's goals. For packaged goods or pharmaceuticals the
timing is less important."
Whatever the date, they're reaching a ready, nostalgic
audience with plenty of purchasing power heading into the biggest shopping
period on the calendar. "Many of the older kids [who once watched] come
back years later when they have their own kids," says Adgate. "It's great
family viewing and that's what advertisers are looking for."
Rudolph, for instance, first ran on NBC from 1964 until
1972, when CBS got the rights. It has been an eye network fixture ever since
and is the longest-running Christmas special ever.
Next best among the animated holiday specials last season
was A Charlie Brown Christmas,
which ran on Dec. 5 on ABC and drew 9 million viewers, a 2.8 18-49 rating, 1.6
million kids and 2.1 million women 18-49. It also had a median-age audience of
44. A second airing on Dec. 15 drew 6.4 million, a 1.8 18-49 rating, 1.1
million kids and 1.5 million women 18-49. ABC will offer up the first showing
of ACharlie Brown Christmas
this year on Nov. 28.
Also, ABC last year paired up the more recent Shrek the
Halls with the classic How the Grinch Stole Christmas on the same
night of Nov. 28; each drew 7.6 million viewers and a 2.6 18-49 demo rating. Shrek
drew more kids, 1.6 million to 1.2 million, but they each drew 2 million women
18-49. Reflecting a bit of a younger audience, Shrek had a median-age viewer of 37, while Grinch was up
around 43, which is still pretty young for broadcast network programming. ABC
is pairing up the two series again this year and will air them for a first run
on Dec. 18.
ABC's telecast of Santa Claus Is Coming to Town last
year on Dec. 1 drew 7.2 million viewers, a 2.2 18-49 rating, 1.2 million kids
and 1.7 million women 18-49. It had a median-age audience of 46. This year, ABC
is plans to televise it a bit later, scheduling the special for Dec. 11.
CBS, which did not televise its first of two airings of Frosty
the Snowman until Dec. 9 last year, will move the show up to Nov. 23 this
time around, the day after Thanksgiving. Last year, Frosty drew 7.3 million viewers, a 1.9 18-49 rating, 1.8 million
kids and 1.5 million women 18-49. In this year's schedule, Frosty will air at 8 and lead into Frosty Returns, which
last year averaged 6.4 million viewers, a 1.6 18-49 rating, a similar figure of
1.8 million kids and 1.3 million women 18-49. CBS is one of the oldest-skewing
networks on television but the aged and classic Frosty the Snowman actually kept the network looking young, drawing
a median-age audience last year of 42, while Frosty Returns' median-age
viewer was 37.
CBS will introduce a new holiday animated special this year
in It's a SpongeBob Christmas,
airing on Nov. 23 at 9:30 p.m., leading out of the two Frosty specials. John Goodman will do the voice of Santa Claus in
the special, which is based on Nickelodeon's beloved animated series SpongeBob
SquarePants. Since its launch in 1999, the series has been television's
most watched kids 2-11 series for more than 12 years.
And, proving that it's not all about the kids, NBC is
bringing back Michael Buble for his second holiday special. Last year, his special aired twice, but the first one on Dec. 6
drew 7 million viewers, a 1.5 18-49 demo rating and 1.1 million women 18-49.
It's significant to mention that the special also drew a much older median-age
audience of 58, with fewer women than many of the animated specials. This year,
Rod Stewart, Blake Shelton and pop singer Carly Rae Jepsen join Buble on the
show. Buble recently appeared on NBC's The
Voice as a mentor on Shelton's team. Jepsen may draw some younger female
viewers, but advertisers looking to reach women around the holidays may well
respond to calls by quoting Jepsen's huge hit, "Call Me Maybe," and stick with
the kid animated specials if they really want to find where the moms are.