Kim Rosenblum, executive vice president and chief creative officer of Nickelodeon Group, approaches almost every project with no idea of how it’s going to turn out.
“And sometimes that uncertainty can be scary,” she said. “But you have to be comfortable living in that uncertainty. If everything was certain, there would be nothing to create.”
Rosenblum is one of three executives who will share ideas, experiences and campaigns that are shaping the future of entertainment marketing at Promax’s Game Changers networking event presented by CSM LeadDog on Monday, November 5 in New York City.
For Nickelodeon, the key has been staying in constant touch with its target audience.
“We’re always listening to kids,” Rosenblum said.
The network meets monthly with a panel of young viewers, asking them directly about the issues that matter to them, and building out programming calendars to reflect that information—from “back to school” and Halloween, to hashtag holidays like #siblingday.
From there, Nickelodeon creates content that cuts through the clutter by targeting kids on the platforms they’re on.
“It’s really noisy and there’s a lot of fragmentation,” Rosenblum said. “You’ve got to be really creative on how you reach people. Go to where they are. We have to seek out our audience; we can’t depend on them coming to us. Even a strong brand like Nickelodeon doesn’t rest.”
One such example is the network’s embrace of second screens.
“We know kids, just like everybody else, are watching TV with a device in hand,” Rosenblum said.
Based on that understanding, in July Nickelodeon launched its Screens Up mobile app featuring augmented reality experiences such as polls, trivia, GIFS, games and more that are synced up to on-air content so kids can play along online as they’re watching a show.
Another campaign that simultaneously reached across platforms and generations was Nickelodeon’s relaunch of Double Dare over the summer.
It was super fun to work on,” Rosenblum said. “And a super rush job. It was a last minute idea and we really turned everything around in eight weeks. That’s when you see the pressure test.”
The campaign tapped the nostalgia of adults who grew up with the game show in the ‘80s and ‘90s, bringing back original host Marc Summers as an executive producer who provides color commentary on the show, and turning to YouTube star Liza Koshy as the new host to appeal to younger viewers.
When marketing the return of Double Dare, Rosenblum and her team thought in terms of ‘what if 1988 met 2018?’ They wanted a visual identity that harkened the past, but could only be executed with modern technology and resources.
“It looks old and retro, but is completely in the moment of today, so it felt fresh,” Rosenblum said.
initiatives such as a partnership with HQ Trivia, a Facebook game and a live tour brought together many different ages and platforms that resulted in high ratings and family viewing.
“There were so many tentacles,” Rosenblum said. “I like to work on stuff that has a lot of layers, with different audiences and platforms, and that adds up to something bigger. There are a lot of parts, and the sum is greater than its parts.”
Heading into 2019, Nickelodeon has its eye on video, which has been a big focus lately. The network recently expanded to more than 300 subchannels on YouTube, more than doubling in just a year.
“We upload every day, sometimes multiple videos a day,” Rosenblum said.
There’s also no digital team; a multi-platform perspective is simply embedded across all departments. And Nickelodeon is “extremely active on social,” developing content that’s customized for each individual platform, such as short-form content on Facebook Watch.
Many of the shows, such as On This Day which highlights a moment in Nickelodeon history such as when Blue Clues host Steve Burns left the show, target older millennials who grew up with the network’s programming.
“Everyone would be wise in 2019 to keep looking for those new partnerships beyond linear,” Rosenblum said.
Nickelodeon is also constantly tapping its talent for ideas such as behind the scenes videos, spinoffs and companion pieces.
“We’re incredible lucky because a lot of the talent at Nickelodeon grew up watching Nickelodeon,” Rosenblum said. “It’s a secret sauce and one of those things that makes our creative emotionally connected.”
With so much content and ways to communicate available today, Rosenblum also remains open-minded and curious about the future, and always looks for ways to keep learning.
“You don’t know what you don’t know,” she said. “One of the ways I’ve stayed fresh and excited is every day is different. I don’t wake up with the assumption I know how the day is going to go. Or even how the week or month or year is going to go. If you’re trying to be successful right now, you have to be flexible.”