Nickelodeon Campaign Is All About Play

Nickelodeon's latest campaign isn't about getting children to spend more time in front of the television. It's all about getting them outside.

This week Nickelodeon kicked off its Let's Just Play campaign, featuring on- and off-air assets of the Viacom network - as well as help from the Boys and Girls Clubs of America and celebrities and experts. The multimedia, multi-year campaign will also include a special on Nickelodeon later this year.

The Let's Just Play campaign is designed to get kids back to what they're good at but are often unable to do in today's harried scheduling, said Jean Margaret Smith, vice president of public affairs at Nickelodeon. Smith said that it's natural for Nickelodeon to make this effort as Nick's there in children's lives every day.

"The idea is to engage kids in fun, active, healthy play and restore that type of fun to their lives," said Smith, who spoke by phone earlier this week in Portland, Ore., where she was appearing at an event to help kick off the program.



It's not the first large public-service campaign for the Viacom-owned cable network, which pulls in a large share of the children's television universe. For years, Nickelodeon has been touting community service with a number of partners nationwide.

The on-air component includes several 15- and 30-second spots running throughout Nick that tell children that summer's the high season to go outside and play. The 30-second spots are more movie-like and the 15-second spots, "Have You Played Today," discuss how active, outdoors play is a great way to spend leisure time. A third series of spots will soon air featuring several celebrities, the network said.

Nickelodeon Magazine and the company's online properties (, and are also part of the campaign. Each will have additional resources, including games/activities, tips and links to the Boys & Girls Clubs of America. There are also grassroots, local pieces to the effort, such as the event in Portland. Smith said that it's hoped that, as the campaign gets going, more organizations and perhaps advertisers will join the campaign. It's a multiyear effort along the lines of The Big Help, which has in nine years encouraged 40 million children nationwide to pledge 383 million volunteer hours.

A national Let's Just Play Advisory Committee comprised of leading experts and celebrities in the fields of professional sports, child psychology, health, and education also have joined the campaign. Key celebrity Advisory Committee members include: Tiki Barber, New York Giants; Jason Kidd, New Jersey Nets; Tony Hawk, skateboard legend; Rick Foxx, LA Laker; Theresa Witherspoon, NY Liberty; hip hop legend Russell Simmons; Summer Sanders, Olympic medalist; Nickelodeon's own Nick Cannon; and teen hip hop music sensation Romeo.

Health and education experts serving on the Advisory Committee will include Rick Wolff, Center for Sports Parenting; Alvin Poussaint, MD, Judge Baker Children's Center; Sandra L. Calvert, PhD, Georgetown University; Anne Flannery, P.E.4 LIFE; Roxanne Spillett, Boys & Girls Club of America; Agnes Crawford, Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development; Woodie Kessel, MD, MPH, President's Task Force on Health Risks & Safety Risk to Children; Tom Martin, MD, The American Academy of Pediatrics; Vicky Rideout, Kaiser Family Foundation; and Kathy J. Spangler, National Recreation and Park Association.

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