YTV celebrates its fifth birthday

Five-year-old YTV is grown up enough to know that while it is a cable tv channel for youngsters, it needs a strong marketing strategy to compete with the big boys.It is entering year number six with a renewed vigor to reinforce...

Five-year-old YTV is grown up enough to know that while it is a cable tv channel for youngsters, it needs a strong marketing strategy to compete with the big boys.

It is entering year number six with a renewed vigor to reinforce its identity as a safe place for children to tune in to.

In its quest to get on the viewer short-list, ytv is being challenged by videos, satellite tv and a proliferation of specialty channels, not to mention children’s programming on regular network tv.

ytv’s plan of attack includes glitzy new on-air promos, a solid lineup of programs and a new look to advertising and promotions to sell the entire package.

Preferences

Part of the preparation involved making better use of its research to target audience program preferences – not an easy task because the ytv audience is made up of four segments: preschoolers, tweens (nine- to 14-year-olds), teens and parents.

The advertising aspect was dealt with this past April with the hiring of a new creative agency, the Toronto office of Montreal-based Taxi.

The account had been handled for the previous four years by bwck of Toronto.

Murtagh Thom of Toronto continues to take care of media planning and buying.

Rita Ferrari, ytv affiliate marketing manager, says the major difference in the new campaign is that each show is treated as a brand.

‘There is specific advertising for each program, all with a link to ytv,’ Ferrari says.

More targetted

She says the media selection has also changed and become more targetted.

Interior busboards, which were used last year for the first time, are on the schedule, along with exterior busboards and print advertising in tv magazines, Kid’s Tribute and Kid’s World.

A giant handpainted Murad mural in downtown Toronto, a first for ytv, promotes Dennis the Menace, reruns of the original series.

It reads, ‘Watch Out For Dennis the Men…,’ trailing off to a giant paint spill and topsy-turvy scaffolding.

To get the effect of the splattered paint just right, Taxi art director Frank Lepre dumped the paint himself, leaving the original paint bucket behind on the scaffolding.

Another innovative approach for Dennis the Menace will run in tv magazines.

The one-third horizontal ad at the bottom of the page features an overturned cup with the spilled liquid, the only spot of color, spreading to the top two-thirds of the page.

The copy echoes the Murad execution.

On the Taxi creative team with Lepre is Patrick Doyle, copywriter, and Paul Lavoie, creative director.

Other programs in the campaign include new entries Biker Mice From Mars, Roundhouse and Are You Afraid of the Dark?, along with returning favorites, Catwalk, The Hit List With Tarzan Dan and Big Comfy Couch.

All of the advertising is dominated by the visuals, keeping copy to a minimum with a small white ytv logo set in an oval that changes color with each ad as almost an afterthought on the bottom.

The campaign starts its 25-week run next week.

On-air promos are created in-house, but carry through the same themes developed by Taxi.

ytv launched in three million homes in 1988 and today is seen by more than 6.5 million Canadian families.

That growth has brought the money ytv needed to develop more in-house and co-productions, and, this year, it expects to run about 650 hours of first-run original Canadian programs.

ytv also received an official vote of confidence last August when the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission granted it a seven-year licence renewal. PS