January 8, 2009, - 3:09 pm

Disney Now Going After Long-Neglected Market a/k/a Boys With Empty Programming

By Debbie Schlussel
Like every other segment of society, Disney’s been neglecting boys. But, now, after a gazillion princess movies and stuff about girlie-boy bands, the boys are back. And that’s a good thing . . . depending on the message boys are sent and that’s not clear from Disney’s marketing plans, which sound kind of empty and devoid of anything substantive.

Walt Disney Co. is making a push to crack a market that few media companies have been able to conquer — boys aged 6-14.
Next month, the company will launch a boy-focused entertainment brand called Disney XD, consisting of a new cable television channel, a comprehensive Web site with games, music, videos and social networking.

aaronstone.jpg

Disney’s “Aaron Stone”: Will It Send

the Right Message–Or Any Message At All–To Young Boys?

For Disney, the move marks a new push designed to replicate some of the success it has scored in recent years with its largely girl-targeted entertainment franchises such as Hannah Montana, High School Musical and the Jonas Brothers. . . .
But it hasn’t hit the same heights with the similarly aged boy market. “I think boys are just harder, in general, to get galvanized behind any one thing,” says Jane Buckingham, president of the Intelligence Group, a market-research firm in Los Angeles. “And there isn’t a lot out there for the tween boy market.”
Disney has produced properties that attract boys, including the “Cars” and “Pirates of the Caribbean” franchises. But until now, the company hasn’t tried to package them together in such a way as to consistently target the young boy market.
“We looked at the landscape and feel that girls are being served — if not super-served, and preschoolers are also well served, but boys really haven’t been,” says Rich Ross, president of Disney Channels Worldwide. “If boys have been served, it’s been mostly in animation, which [is] only a narrow portion of what boys are interested in.”
Using both television and a new Web portal, Disney hopes to introduce boys to a host of new live-action and animated shows, original movies, new music acts and games. And Disney executives also hope to leverage boys’ love of sports, using the company’s ESPN brand, which will likely collaborate on original programming and other sports-themed topics for Disney XD. (Disney says the letters don’t refer to anything.)
On Feb. 13, Disney will rebrand its existing animation channel, Toon Disney, as Disney XD and will launch the new action-adventure show “Aaron Stone,” that it hopes will become the channel’s centerpiece. The show melds aspects of what the company says boys are interested in: action, adventure and videogames. Another new show, “Zeke & Luther” will be a comedy filmed in quasidocumentary style about two best friends trying to become world-famous skateboarders.
Toon Disney is currently available on both basic cable and digital packages in about 72 million households. The Disney Channel is seen in about 97 million U.S. households. Disney XD will air traditional advertising spots, according to Disney officials.
But the launch of Disney XD comes amid a major advertising downturn, which could pose a challenge as the company hopes to attract advertisers both online and television.
Like the Disney Channel, which helped launch the careers of such household names as Britney Spears, Justin Timberlake and Shia LaBeouf, executives want XD to serve as a springboard for fresh faces. Up first is 21-year-old Kelly Blatz, the star of “Aaron Stone,” a Burbank native who was for a time a barista at a Starbucks down the street from Disney Channel headquarters.
Simultaneously, Disney’s online unit will launch DisneyXD.com, an ad-supported Web site that won’t only be used to promote XD television properties, but will focus on action-driven games and video. There will also be social networking and online community sections of the site.

Blah, blah, blah. Where is the magic and wonder, once the hallmark of Disney charm?
Young boys really don’t need more high tech garbage, extreme sports, and computer games. They need to be taught values and how to be good, responsible young men. And they need to have an opportunity to develop an interest in the outdoors, science, and wildlife developed–things that have been neglected, especially with the decline of the Boy Scouts.
This new Disney marketing plan seems devoid of that. It sounds absolutely vapid. But boys have a hunger for the right message. That’s why “The Dangerous Book for Boys” was such a success. I really wish Disney would take a few lessons–and adopt some programming–from those pages. Boys would eat it up.
That marketing chick has it all wrong. Boys aren’t hard to galvanize. . . if you have the right message and content.

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6 Responses

….who better than a “marketing chick” to decide what is best for young American males….?

Nick Fury on January 8, 2009 at 3:28 pm

or an unmarried blogger with no children?

chitown85 on January 8, 2009 at 4:16 pm

Wonder if marketing chick knows about the Springfield Armory line of XD pistols? Maybe there is a nartual marketing in for them if the programing works out.

Azygos on January 8, 2009 at 5:53 pm

I am thankful I had a Father (not a Weekend Dad) and a Mother who were married and older brothers. Being told how to be a man and not to do things that will bring dishonor to your family was vital to me. Older brothers who would set me straight when I was being stupid when my father wasn’t there. Unfortunately too many kids are from single family parents with only a mother. Welfare programs made the father irrelevant, a check will make it all right. When a child doesn’t see a father providing the shelter, clothing, food, education, inspiration, health care and other essential elements to a family he or she doesn’t understand what importance a father is to play. If the child see a welfare check, section 8 housing, Medicaid, and other government services, what is the point of a father to that child? And they wonder why children fail. Thank god for fathers in the family. Liberals see fathers as mean, wrong, irrational, out of touch…
So Hollyweird raises a lot of this country’s children already and now Disney want to step in. Young boys will be taught to be more effeminate, be more dependent, less independent, be more selfish, not to sacrifice for others, look in the mirror for more time in the day, not to be aggressive, not to be accountable, not to care for those less than you, not to step up when others wont…..on and on and on….

californiascreaming on January 8, 2009 at 7:11 pm

When is Chabad going to do anything for Jewish men. Their web site neglects men. Debbie does very little for men when it comes down to it and she supports other women who have done nothing for men either. Her father supported a man that supported liberal divorce idea’s and then has more faith in arab women having children then Jewish women. SInce her father is no longer alive instead of just being a propogandist for him maybe she should change some of her ways. Becuase otherwise her father will be punished for her daughters sins as well since he taught her to be this way.
Debbie hates a whole religon when she supports her own religon because it lets her do what she wants. Even though she really doesn’t follow her own religon. A woman was created to be a man’s helpmate but neither Debbie nor her friends are married.
Debbie wants an endless war with Muslims which will lead to MORE MEN dying. Do you think divorced and single women hating another religon to the degree they do going to cause more or less war. Do you think are enemies are going to take you seriously or just say that their religon supports women doing what they want and not getting married and having children.

adam6275 on January 10, 2009 at 9:08 pm

“Young boys really don’t need more high tech garbage, extreme sports, and computer games. They need to be taught values and how to be good, responsible young men. And they need to have an opportunity to develop an interest in the outdoors, science, and wildlife developed–things that have been neglected, especially with the decline of the Boy Scouts.”
Deb, “high tech garbage and computer games” are not new, they’re just more violent and sickly realistic now. I am only a couple of years older than you and while I can’t remember (to use the age range of Disney XD’s target) this kind of stuff when I was 6, I certainly can when I was 14.
A great “hi-tech” (hey it is the 21st century and having a basic sense of tech is important, it’s just that gory video games are not the way to go about it) way to develop an interest in science, the outdoors and wildlife is the growing hobby of geocaching, in which coordinates to a box hidden in the woods are given online, and real good “hiders” position these boxes so in finding them you get a real good taste of nice wildlife/outdoors areas; often these are surprisingly in urban areas and place unknown even to locals.
And the sport/movement is very “environmentally active” in a way that I think your political sensibilities would like. There are organized efforts to clean up woods and parks by geocaching groups, yet very little “extremism” (many “extremists” actually hate geocaching because they think it ruins trails and that the hides are “pollution”, not realizing that it is getting a lot of young people who otherwise wouldn’t be interested in nature and the outdoors back into it). It’s “scouts friendly” too, while the Boy Scouts do not have a medal for geocaching because of debates as to whether it is “too much reliance on tech” (the Girl Scouts have one though), quite a few cachers are scouts leaders and incorporate this activity with their troops and say that it helps generate interest in scouting among today’s youth.
I am quite an advocate in the NY area of it’s use as such a tool for youth (though many grownups and even “tech phobic” retirees have gotten into it too) and I can tell you from what I see in forums that it’s pretty active in the Detroit area. Check out these sites for your perusal:
http://www.geocaching.com
http://www.mi-geocaching.org/sechapter/

hairymon on January 11, 2009 at 11:11 am

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