Parents of young children may have noticed two new Muppets on “Sesame Street” earlier this year when Wes and Elijah were added to the show to help teach racial literacy.
“We really feel a responsibility as a brand, as an organization, to not only speak out for racial justice but to provide children and families with real tools to not only speak out but to help them talk about race and racism,” said Samantha Maltin, executive VP and chief marketing officer at Sesame Workshop, which produces the long-running kids’ series.
A recent racism study conducted by Sesame Workshop showed that 86% of children ages 6 to 11 “believe that people of different races are not treated fairly in this country,” Maltin said on the latest episode of Ad Age’s “Marketer’s Brief” podcast. “Close to half of those children have personally experienced discrimination of some kind.”
The nonprofit is also taking some cues from the pandemic. Sesame Street characters and scenery were featured in DoorDash’s Super Bowl commercial about delivery and ordering from local businesses, which took on more importance for many families as they stayed home. And this week, DoorDash announced that it will deliver Sesame Street-themed items such as shirts and face masks from a virtual version of Hooper’s Store, with proceeds going to Sesame Workshop's efforts.
In a pandemic-related storyline, Elmo got a puppy a few months ago. The decision to have him get his own furry friend, a dog named Tango, was made well before the pandemic, Maltin said. But the timing coincided with trends among families that got pandemic pets. Now, the show models how kids can help take care of the animals, and Sesame Workshop also began a partnership with animal-focused media brand The Dodo.