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Nick Dials in Wireless With iCarly Buy

Anthony Crupi

MediaWeek

August 25, 2008


Nickelodeon has signed its first wireless client, AT&T, to a multiplatform deal that coincides with the brand’s foray into the tween space.

AT&T is buying time on Nick’s hybrid hit, iCarly, the show within a show that incorporates user-generated content into its linear narrative. Speaking to Nick viewers in their own voice, custom-branded spots demonstrate how smartphones let kids be a part of the media mix while they connect with friends. The first spot will run on Nick next week.

In courting nonendemic advertisers, Nick over the last three years has redefined the kids market, expanding its roster of usual suspects to accommodate more than $100 million in automotive, consumer electronics and travel business. This summer, the net took its game up a notch with the AT&T/iCarly pact

Building off one of iCarly’s popular interactive segments, young actors in the ad use their Samsung Palm Centro phones to watch, shoot and share “Random Dancing” snippets. A call-out then directs viewers to an AT&T microsite hosted by Nick.com.

AT&T will highlight other smartphone models in the campaign, with plans to incorporate Sony Ericsson’s W350 Walkman into the creative later this fall.

According to AT&T’s youth marketing expert, Mimi Chan, tweens represent a vast untapped market for carriers, as usage rates among the iCarly set skyrocket. Of the 20 million in the 8-12 demo, nearly one-third own mobile devices.

While kids increasingly drive demand for wireless products, Chan said, they won’t accept just any phone model. “They see what their older siblings have, and they want that same functionality, the texting and the video,” said Chan, director of national marketing at AT&T.

“That’s why Nickelodeon is such a good fit for us. Kids are early adopters, and iCarly really connects with them on that level.” While iCarly delivers reliable reach, drawing 3 million viewers per episode, it also ranks as cable’s No. 2 live-action series among tweens.

“We’ve had our share of nonendemics before, but those were adult-facing campaigns,” said Jim Perry, executive vp of 360 brand sales for Nickelodeon and the MTVN Kids and Family Group. “This is big because they’re targeting the tween market directly.” The deal, representing a “seven-digit commitment,” Perry said, was set up by the $300 million upfront pact Nick closed with GroupM in May.

Season two of iCarly bows on Saturday, Sept. 27 at 8 p.m. Each week throughout the fall, Nickelodeon will premiere a new episode of the show in that time slot, leading up to the first-ever iCarly TV movie, iGo to Japan. AT&T will also sponsor the 90-minute iGo special, which debuts in November.

 

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