Case Study

'SNL's' Poehler Tries Earnesty on Web

Comic's Internet Series Aims to Help Tweens

By Published on .

The Creators: "Saturday Night Live's" Amy Poehler and Meredith Walker created Web series "Smart Girls at the Party." Ms. Walker is an Austin-based freelance television producer who previously worked as a senior producer for Nickelodeon's Nick News and the head of talent for "Saturday Night Live."

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The Distributors: The show launched in November and episodes release weekly. The two women produce the show in partnership with Web studio On Networks, which handles distribution. The show is distributed on Smartgirlsattheparty.tv, Mattel.com, iTunes, Adobe Media Player, MissOandfriends.com, Workingmother.com, TiVo and on some mobile phones, reaching more than 30 partners in total.

The Sponsors: Mattel is the sole sponsor, with spots for Barbie running before each episode. Mattel is not involved in the content, but does run a range of ads, including pre-rolls, banners, lower thirds and post rolls. The show is targeted at girls 9 to 14 and the producers will market the program through public relations efforts, across many of its distribution partners and with Mattel. As an example, the Barbie brand is promoting the show in multiple places on the Barbie.com site.

The Content: In each five-to-eight minute episode, show host Ms. Poehler interviews a girl with a unique talent, point of view or community interest. The conversations range from serious to light, but are focused on how to make a difference in the world. Ms. Walker and Ms. Poehler will also soon launch blogs to accompany the show. Viewers can write in with questions and Ms. Poehler will answer some on air.

Backstory: When discussing the challenges of growing up, Ms. Poehler and Ms. Walker often focus on how the years between 5th and 8th grade are usually the toughest for girls, Ms. Walker said. "It was always so interesting to us that most women had a rough time between those years and those are the ages when you start morphing yourself to fit in and hope people like you more and we knew we wanted to do something about that," she said. They decided to create a short Web show targeted to the challenges and opportunities of those tween years so girls could learn from other kids their age. The show is something of a "digital pen pal" that gives girls a chance to learn from peers, just as the hosts themselves did in the pre-Internet age with snail-mail pen pals. "That was a way to get exposed to other girls and talent and we want to do the same with this show," Ms. Walker said. After they conceived the idea, the women reached out to On Networks as a partner. With eight episodes shot and scheduled for release over the next several weeks, the producers are taking a break from shooting because Ms. Poehler is on maternity leave. They will return to the show in the new year.

Endgame: "This is the endgame," Ms. Walker said. "We want girls to feel like they are being heard and taken seriously."
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