To help clients capture kids' attention, ad agencies have spun off special units like Grey Advertising's G-WhiZ! Youth Marketing, Saatchi & Saatchi's Kid Connection and WPP Group's Geppetto Group-all in New York.
Besides offering traditional services, these breakout shops provide in-depth knowledge of kids' ever-changing culture. For instance, experts at Leo Burnett USA's KidLeo, Chicago, recently completed a study on kids' friendships.
"We realized that how kids talk about friends also applies to brands,"
says Kathy Lalley, executive planning director and a co-founder of KidLeo. "We've shown this to clients and they're thinking about how to be friends with kids."
Independent agencies totally focused on the youth market also are making impressive headway in the field. Fueled by entrepreneurs who honestly love the world of kids, these kid-centric agencies recognize the power of the youth market and have decided to call it home. A selection of some shops includes:
Date Agency/Parent Launched Billings Clients Comment
As If, New York
OshKosh B'Gosh shoes, Nine West Kids and Playmobil
"There are 60 million kids between 5 and 20," says Elena Scotti, founder of As If. "They have tremendous economic clout and are tremendously self-sufficient. This gives them far more `say' in family and personal economics."
CME KidCom, Minneapolis
Campbell Mithun Esty
Minnesota Department of Health Anti-Smoking Campaign, General Mills Cinnamon Toast Crunch, KB Gear Interactive
Campbell Mithun Esty claims to have been marketing to kids and families for 40 years. It formalized its commitment to the youth market by creating CME KidCom.
G-WhiZ! Youth Marketing, New York
Warner Home Video, Elmer's glue, Playtex's Mr. Bubble
"Clients with youth-oriented brands have expressed the real need for specialized communications solutions, ideas that transcend single mediums to reach young consumers at multiple points of contact with their brands," says G-WhiZ! President Barbara Martino. The shop "represents a new paradigm for achieving greater communications synergy."
Geppetto Group, New York
$35 million in 1998
BMG Music, Kids Foot Locker, Wild Planet Toys
"General-market agencies are appropriately not interested in or committed to the youth market to the degree that's necessary to be successful," says Julie Halpin, CEO. "We're able to focus our time, people and financial resources on being true experts in the youth market."
Imagination Company, Bethel, Vt.
Vermont Pure Springs, various mountain resorts
"The Internet is the place to be if you want to reach kids," says Jack Girompini, director of promotions and technology. "Kids are looking for a wealth of information in that medium, which they find very attractive and can gain this information in an expeditious fashion."
Kid Connection, New York
Saatchi & Saatchi
All Saatchi & Saatchi clients can make use of the Kid Connection for data and consulting on the youth market.
Leo Burnett USA
Crayola, Hallmark Cards
"The fact that kids are learning and growing puts a very different spin on whatever you do for them compared to what you do for adults," says Kathy Lalley, executive planning director and co-founder of KidLeo. "They're fascinating and unique."
DDB Worldwide's Griffin Bacal, New York
Mott's, Pepsi-Cola Co., Lipton, Frito-Lay
"Kids are an incredibly dynamic market," says Paul Kurnit, president of Griffin Bacal and Kid Think. "All of us who market to kids want to provide responsible communication that educates and informs them about products, ideas and services that in some way will enrich their lives."
Kidvertisers, New York
Zowie Intertainment, Nickelodeon (except magazines)
"You can really immerse yourself in the category and understand it and ride the changes culturally," says Deyna Vesey, creative director and co-president. "We try to get a `wow' out of a kid based on what it is in the product that's a `wow.' What our clients do is so cool it's easy."
Thelma Lager & Associates, Los Angeles
Around $1 million
Arm's Reach Bedside Co-Sleeper, Kids II
"The market is growing tremendously because more people are becoming educated about having babies," says Thelma Lager, founder of this agency that concentrates on the prenatal-to-4 market. "[To address this market] you have to understand what's important to organizations like Lamaze and the La Leche League. That saves your clients tons of time."
Summit Media Group, New York
4Kids Entertainment Co.
Furby, THQ Video Games, WCW Wrestling
Summit Media was conceived and designed to do media planning, buying and program distribution for youth-oriented products and services. "The tween market is a big area of concentration for Summit," says President Tom Kenney. "Any media for the tween audience has to cover everything including broadcast, print, online and outdoor advertising."
Chiquita, Toymax, Smucker's, Elmer's Glue Kids
"We like to work with clients whose products or services enhance the lives of today's youth," says Exec VP Greg Livingston. "We are constantly doing research that allows us to really understand the youth market, much more than an agency with only one youth client."