Gary Pope
6 mins
Do a Tom Hanks in “BIG” and put yourself in the shoes of a nipper just for a moment…

You’re three years old and quite little. You’re surrounded by BIG people that tell you what to do all the time (and little people that might get on your nerves a bit) and yet with each day that passes you become more and more aware of yourself and the influence you can potentially have on the world around you. It’s A LOT (as Gen Z like to say). This innate desire to exert your personal power and control over aspects of your life simply grows and grows and grows. It is one of the developmental drivers that makes our species human.

You see, when children are born they have no control over what happens – the carer or parent has all the power but, as time passes this begins to change and by around the age of seven the power flips and you start to have more of a say on what happens in your world.

And that’s because one of the four core emotional need states children have is Power and Control.

Parents have always been important and despite being called Kids Industries, 70% of our work is focused on understanding and creating for the parent. And that’s because it is the parent that puts their hand in their pocket. And to get them to do that, you need to make very sure that both parent and child love what it is you’ve got to offer. And you’ll already know that this is a lot easier said than done.

So often there’s this battle for power between parent and child – sometimes you win, sometimes your mum wins. And sometimes, just sometimes it’s a win win.

Here’s some good news for you: our data tells us something in the realm of parenting has changed and win wins just got a whole lot easier. And that something is co-viewing. Or better still co-experiencing.

The importance of the shared experience in the development of effective and profitable franchises is so often overlooked. Which is bonkers.

We know that families doubled down on their co-viewing during Covid and we also know now that the thirst for physical shared experience grew exponentially coming out the other side – the rise and rise of the LBE is now unstoppable.

It’s definitely a thing. And it’s a thing because the parents of young children today value memories over goods. Joe Pine, the Godfather of experience said in his very good book “The Experience Economy” that “Companies must realise that they make memories not goods”. Totally prophetic in 1999 and totally meaningful today.

And shared experiences can absolutely be delivered on the small screen.

In our recent Global Family Study, where we harnessed the views of 20,147 children and parents from 10 countries, we discovered that when a family chose to engage in a co-viewing experience together – defined as sitting down and watching actively –  that family were 10% more likely to buy into the fandom of a licensed brand. In today’s market that’s the kind of number that gets you a second season’s listing.

You see, the opportunity to co-view is second only to the inclusion of positive role models in a hierarchy of parents’ needs from children’s media. 47% of global parents have this in the top three qualities they desired.

The current cohort of parents are the first that have grown up truly digitally native – they know the ups and the downs of the digital content space and they are protective of their children’s engagement in it. 74% of parents co-view with their children at least half the time that their children are consuming content. And that means a shared experience that is building those all important memories. And if they’re having a nice time together it isn’t much of a leap to see how that parent will react if the consumer products that support the show are requested by their child.

So let me make this concrete. Everyone loves Bluey. Don’t pretend you dont. You love it. If you don’t, you’ve not watched it. I’ve got a theory that the reason that Bluey is so successful isn’t because it is the perfect children’s show – in many ways it is not, there are a few things that could be better. But it is the perfect family animation becauseit holds a mirror up to the viewing family that reflects how that family experiences life. It somehow feels personal to your lived experience. And because that affinity is baked into each and every narrative, the whole family love it.

It doesn’t need vehicles to sell the toy line, it’s got characters and narrative. Characters the whole family can identify with and narratives we’ve all experienced but not been quite able to articulate.. It ain’t so complicated. The writers were allowed to write what they needed to write to do the job they had to do. That doesn’t happen very often in the world of licensing.

It’s really easy to say what I am about to say, and it is really hard to do. But if you do it will make a significant difference to your chances of doing a Bluey.

All you have to to do is engage parents in your content, reflect their lifestyles and lean firmly into the world of the shared experience.

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