From Disney and Kellogg’s to Jurassic Park and Return of the Jedi, from Tetris and Matchbox to PAW Patrol and Frozen – many brands are recognising a milestone birthday this year, and finding a tonne of fun ways to celebrate.
Disney is really going for it (and why not at 100 years) with everything from new merch, movies and theatre shows, to multimedia concerts and multi-sensory pop ups. PAW Patrol kicked off its 10 years early this year with a Rubble & Crew spin-off series, and it will launch a prime time TV special, and release a movie sequel later in the year.
But why do brands feel the need to celebrate an anniversary and do family audiences care?
Birthday celebrations are without doubt a useful tool to remind consumers of the value of a brand, and reinforce the part they play in society and culture. And for some brands, it can be a way for them to re-look at how to engage with audiences and their changing needs, in this fast-paced, ever-changing world.
For young children though, brand anniversaries are a wasted concept. Frozen turns 10 this year too, but to my ‘just’ four year old it’s as old as the day she chooses to watch it, or asks Alexa to play ‘Let it go’ (again). For a preschooler, time is an abstract notion. They can’t see it. They can’t feel it. But being very proudly four does mean that my preschooler can, with a glint in her eye, hark back to the good old days of being three, when she saw something for the first time.
In our recent Global Family study, where we listened to over 5,000 families across the world, co-viewing came out as the second most important factor that parents seek from media consumption. Newsflash: Parents want to prioritise time with their children! We want to connect with our children at every opportunity. Even if that means snatching seven minutes on the sofa to laugh together (and cry, in both mine and my husband’s case I might add) watching basically any episode of Bluey.
And this is where brand anniversaries find relevance with parents of young children. Like most, I’m slightly ashamed of the amount of telly my kids watch and I am loathe to introduce more and more shows (not least because the choice is overwhelming even to me as an adult). But being reminded of brands you know or grew up loving yourself, the emotional pull of nostalgia, familiarity in an unpredictable world, the safety you feel from those brands – it definitely enables you to curate with care, but also with all-important ease.
I wasn’t a particular fan of Paddington growing up, but I know the premise so well, and that it’s appropriate for a 4 and a 6 year old. In the old days it was a line drawn and often colourless animation style, but now it’s made in glorious technicolour 3D. They like it and I’d happily watch it.
When I hear my kids laughing their heads off at anything it fills me with joy and I want to get in there and be part of it with them. It’s how memories are made. Plus, I heard having a laugh can help you age better. So it’s a win win!