Family Entertainment: No Longer Just Paper Bag Players

As a child, I vividly remember coloring a local grocery store bag as part of a contest to win circus tickets. Such a simple marketing tool engrained the circus in my mind for the rest of my life. However, times have clearly changed and marketing entertainment is no longer as simple as handing out paper bags to color. Family entertainment companies must now employ a much broader set of marketing tools and tactics to sell tickets or, as we in the business like to say, “get bottoms in seats!”

Competition:  Making the Zoo Stand Out from Chuck E. Cheese

As a parent of two small boys, I know first-hand that the options for family entertainment are vast. Marketers and media planners have to be creative to differentiate Chuck E. Cheese from Dave & Busters, indoor playgrounds from trampoline parks, zoos from museums, concerts, water parks, etc., in order to capture a share of the family’s entertainment budget.



A Shift in Family Dynamics:  Reaching Moms and Dads

While moms have traditionally been the decision makers when it comes to family time activities and expenditures, a recent Yahoo survey found that men are playing a more significant role in family purchases, and it is expected that this role will increase in the years to come. Event marketers are looking to draw the “dad crowd” to professional wrestling, monster trucks, motocross and even bull riding. Dads are upping the ante from tossing the ball around in the yard on the weekends to paying for these big-ticket events for their kids and their kids’ friends. And it’s not just the dads that have changed. Many moms are now working full-time and not as easily reached as in days gone by. Media buys consisting exclusively of daytime, early fringe, and prime programming with some print thrown in for good measure will no longer cut it. We must be creative to reach these working moms (and dads) on their terms. And to do so, we must stay current in the ever-changing media landscape. 

Changes in Media:  Mommy Blogs to Streaming Radio

Mommy Blogs, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, streaming and satellite radio have all been added to the family entertainment marketer’s toolkit. For example, while scrolling through Facebook during a break at work, moms could consider taking her kids to Disney on Ice. In a similar vein, dads could see a promotion for Chuck E. Cheese while blearily turning on a VOD PBS Kids show on a Sunday morning.

It’s About Laser Precision Not Laser Tag

In today’s increasingly competitive family entertainment industry, understanding the changing household dynamics and fragmented media landscape are just the first steps in developing a solid marketing strategy. In order to be successful, we need to not only ensure prime positioning, but also reach our moms and dads with laser (not laser tag!) precision. Successfully executing that strategy will require approaching your media planning and buying in a more research driven and integrated fashion. Family entertainment marketers and their agencies must go well beyond simply seeking rock bottom rates and basic media mix modeling in order to reach the ultimate goal – putting big and little bottoms in seats.

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