Wednesday, May 19, 2010

About Time

For the past five years, I have spent one night a week away from my family - rushing home from the office to gulp down a couple bites of something edible before rushing off to a class, and afterwards coming home to a sleeping house, wondering if my hawklets missed me and occasionally picking their dreaming bodies up out of bed to rock a bit. I have handed newborns over to Hubby with a bottle and left for hours at a time to pound the path of persistence.

For the past five years, I have spent a lot of my “free” time doing this:
Building projects and presentations.
Meeting with teams.
Studying for exams.
Reading books required by professors.

No more.

Last weekend I was deemed a master.

And now I’ve gotten time back. A lot of time, actually.

Time that can be spent doing more of this:
Giving baths.
Making soapy mohawks.
Cuddling wet hawklets in towels with trucks on them.
Reading books required by little boys.

Being (or working towards being) Master Mom.

*insert huge sigh of relief*

Monday, May 17, 2010

Take your target off of my child

Recently I had the pleasure of attending a seminar featuring the Chairman of Disney Consumer Products, Andy Mooney. Mooney shared insights that drive his business, one of the four divisions of the overarching Disney brand. In other words, he is one of those people I listen to and excitedly think, “I need to work for [INSERT THE PERSON’S BIG BRAND HERE]!!” But I digress.

Mooney shared several behind-the-curtain insights, which you might have noticed that day if you follow me on Twitter but one thing he said about Disney’s targeting particularly stood out to me and is still bouncing around in both the personal and professional sides of my brain like a little brain gnat that can’t do much damage but at the same time completely annoys me.

When asked who are Disney’s target audience or audiences, what do you think Mooney’s response was? Moms of kids within a certain age, right?

Nope, his first mention was girls ages 2 to 10, followed by boys slightly younger.

Not the moms… the kids.

This is not to say moms aren’t a consumer target for Disney, clearly Disney focuses on multiple target audiences including moms and its Disney Moms panel for the theme parks is a great example of that. But there is an audience prioritization going on. And our kids are in the bullseye. The marketers’ first thought, their first mention.

It’s not right or wrong. Clearly it’s working for Mooney. But here are several reasons why I can’t get this comment out of my mind:

  1. Mooney pointed to young children first – children likely too young to even have an allowance – as Disney’s primary target. Typically when we talk about targets, we are referring to consumers. Consumers by definition spend money. Does your young child do his or her own shopping, or do you shop for your child? Who is in charge?
  2. Mooney’s comment also tells me that Disney likely buys into the concept of nagging. I don’t want to think that Disney wants to wear me down to a ‘giving in’ point to get me to buy something my kids want. Rather, I want to know that Disney wants to build me up to get me to do the same behavior – to market to me directly and make me feel that if I gift my child with some Disney product I will be a better mom with happier, smarter, better-adjusted children.
  3. Mooney revealed that Disney looks at girls first and boys second. It’s no surprise that Disney is known for princesses and Cinderella’s castle. But boys love to be entertained just as much as girls do, and I still haven’t grasped the reasons why both genders aren’t equal opportunity customers for the Disney brand. I don’t tell my boys they can’t like pink, but the bottom line is they don’t want to play with princesses.
  4. As the mother of two children in this age range, the idea that there are strategy meetings going on to determine how to get my children to act a certain way makes my mama bear radar go up. Target me, that’s fine. I welcome brand engagement as the owner of the purse strings. I know what strategies are being put together around moms as consumers. But target my children with such strategies? Something feels icky about it.

Is it okay with you for a brand to target your kids, instead of you as the purchaser for your kids?