Category Archives: Television

Forty years of communicating ABCs from Sesame Street

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This week the classic children television program Sesame Street kicks off its 40th season – happy birthday to the birthplace of Oscar the Grouch, Grover, Count Von Count, Big Bird and all their friends.

With forty years under their belt, we thought we’d look at what we’ve learned from the colourful characters who’ve been entertaining and educating children (and their parents) since 10 November 1969.

Earlier this year, Nancy Gibbs ‘Tickle Me Obama: Lessons from Sesame Street’ article in Time Magazine made some interesting points about Obama being the first President to grow up with Sesame Street and how the show has influenced the way we talk about issues.

As Gibbs says “Sesame Street’s genius lies in finding gentle ways to talk about hard things — death, divorce, danger — in terms that children understand and accept.” She asks the question though whether we’re ready to move beyond this and hear the truth!

As a communicator you often need to translate complex ideas into simple concepts or sound bites. This is something the people on Sesame Street have mastered, through their strong characters they are able to discuss complex issues broken down into simple terms.

I think you can also learn a bit from their ability to tailor communication for varying audiences – they have content for their primary views (children) and content for the secondary audience (the parents) plus resources and information for professionals as well. Check out their blog for parents which is clever and engaging!

Another thing we can learn from Sesame Street is the way it captures the reality of the situation and deals with real issues in real places. Yes the characters are muppets but they don’t sugar coat the truth and they surround themselves with places that are relevant for their audience.

The other thing that’s great about Sesame Street is they keep it simple. Each day they deal with one letter and one number and the show doesn’t try to deal with too many issues at the one time. Think about this the next time you’re wanting to raise awareness of a particular issue or want to educate your stakeholders about a change – don’t overload them with information.

Also check out the c word’s 7 tips for creativity and passion inspired by Sesame Street character featured on PRIA website this week. We’re certain you’ll find some pointers there that will inspire your work life. 🙂

Finally, I can’t help but continue to love Google’s themed homepages – this week they celebrate Sesame Street’s 40th with a Cookie Monster for Australians.

So tell us who’s your favourite Sesame Street character – add a comment below, tweet us @thecwordagency or send us an email to info@thecword.com.au. Our favourite one is the Cookie Monster especially when he sings about his favourite c word… Cookie!!

Have a colourful week,

the c word

Glee Marketing Class 101

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There’s no denying the c word is a fan of Fox’s hit new show Glee. Like millions of other fans, we got caught up in the online hysteria generated by this new show and have been anxiously waiting for each new episode. You have to be seriously impressed with the marketing onslaught by the people behind Glee.

We discovered the show online…not sure where as it was a while ago but probably popped up in our Google Reader. The show developed a cult following even before going to air through its use of MySpace, YouTube, Twitter and Facebook. The first episode was the number one downloaded television show on iTunes with Fox offering the show for free.

We regularly check the YouTube for snippets of performances and behind-the-scenes footage and chats with Glee cast. From a social media perspective they’ve gone all out.

Not only that, across all platforms that have targeted the campaigns. They’ve developed links with American Idol and Australian Idol to piggyback off their audiences. Both Channel Ten and Fox have been inundated with Glee ads during Idol and other high rating television shows with a strong 16-35 audience base (my favourite is the Gleek one… yes I’m a Gleek too).

Old and new marketing angles have been utilised. Social media… check. Promotions… check. Advertising… check. Publicity… check. The cast are even doing shopping mall visits… How old school? We are half tempted to head down to Highpoint Shopping Centre this Saturday to meet the cast. Wonder if Kurt will be there?? *squuueeeeaaaals*

No stone has been left unturned. With 24,000+ Twitter followers, 250,000+ Facebook fans, let’s hope this buzz translates to TV ratings. In Australia, the pilot attracted 1.2million viewers following the insanely popular Masterchef. However, last night the director’s cut of the pilot kicked off the season’s regular airing, but only rated 871,000. Let’s see how it goes next week when episode two airs?

We’ve got our finger crossed this show does well. Snarky high school shows with spirit fingers, late 80s/early 90s music are just what the doctor ordered in the c word office.

Anyway, off to do a phoner (that’s an interview with a major network), probably on my iPhone.

Have a fab weekend.

the c word

Martini, Mad Men & smoking on the job

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MM1the c word office was abuzz with news that Mad Men Season 3 premiered in the US on Sunday. We love everything about this television show; the fashion, the adultery, the sexual politics and especially the smoking & drinking on the job. The girls in our office aspire to wiggle down the street in a Joan Hollaway-esque dress and follow Peggy Olson up the corporate ladder. Obviously the boys like to suit up like Don Draper and try to be just as slick & sleek.

But one of our favourite things about the show is seeing the goings-on of an advertising agency in the 1960s. It’s awesome watching the Sterling Cooper team introduce, what was then a foreign concept, a jingle to a coffee company trying to target the youth market or watching the creative team discuss the merits of a company brand like ‘London Fog’. Or Peggy nonchalantly coming up with the ‘basket of kisses’ concept. And of course the office politics.

Oh sassy Joan, cool Don, whiny Pete, in-the-closet Sal and modern working girl Peggy!! When are you back on our screens in Australia?? Soon, I hope. We miss you. BTW, does anyone else think Bertram Cooper looks like the Colonel? I always feel like KFC whenever he appears … mmm donuts, i mean KFC …

Another meeting at Sterling Cooper

Another meeting at Sterling Cooper

There have been some amazing television shows about advertising, public relations and communications over the years. Here are our top 5 comms related TV shows:

1. West Wing: Who didn’t want to work with CJ, Toby and Josh? Set in the White House following key players in the Bartlett administration… hold on a sec. If you don’t know this TV show, don’t even bother reading our blog. We don’t want to know you. This was truly an amazing piece of television.

2. Absolutely Fabulous: “La Croix sweetie, La Croix” Drinking champagne, snorting coke and wearing designer labels never looked so much fun. Nothing beats the ridiculousness of this UK comedy. Edie & Patsy … we’re forever indebted to you for being great role models for PR Darhling PR!

3. Mad Men: enough said really.

4. Absolute Power: Not to be confused with the Clint Eastwood film, this is another UK gem by the brilliant Stephen Fry. Unfortunately this series only went for 2 seasons but it was jammed packed with some of the most Laugh-Out-Loud lines ever. So funny that it warrants writing LOL out in full. So what is it about? According to their tagline… “The inner workings of a successful PR firm – lying for a living”

5. Melrose Place: OK this wasn’t exactly a favourite of ours. We were more Beverly Hills 90210 fans. But it deserves a special mention for renewing Heather Lockear’s career and giving birth to many Amanda Woodwood wanna-bes heading up there very own advertising agency with the likes of Billy & Allison working for them. OK we watched it more than once … don’t hate us.

So what are your favourite movies or TV shows set in the communications field?

And your favourite characters?? These are the c word team’s faves:

Jack: My god so many, I’d like to thank … oh wait this isn’t an oscar speech … CJ – the powerful communicator who steps in & takes over *chuckle* & of course Edwina Monsoon – champagne sweetie!

Maryann: Josh Lyman from the West Wing. I know he’s fictional but I do want to marry him one day *sigh*

Marta: Well I have a penchant for crazy ladies. So either Patsy from AdFab or for the really out-there crazy prize… it’s gotta be Dr Kimberly Shaw (Marcia Cross) on Melrose Place

Time to get back to work and stop watching TV. If you really need a Mad Men fix (and you’re only human), you can follow some of the characters on Twitter. It is quite strange to have a Twitter conversation with a fictional character… but quite a buzz too.

We decided some other suave & cool peeps from years ago should be our musical inspiration. Take it away Nancy Sinatra & Dean Martin…

Enjoy your weekend folks.

the c word