Maybe I'm being overly sensitive, but I'm not a big fan of using kindergartners to unknowingly shill products. On the range of shameful marketing concepts, I find this strategy somewhere in between McDonald's "I'd hit it" campaign and Skoal handing out chewing tobacco to minors (including me). Well, the marketing folks at the soon-to-be launched children's network Hub TV (from Discovery and Hasbro) decided to do just that.
Find the pigeon
I'm watching the local news last night. As usual, they close the broadcast with a "feel-good" story. But this time it wasn't about a tap-dancing squirrel or someone buying the stolen Picasso Le pigeon aux petits pois at a Bakersfield garage sale for $10. They were at a local elementary school where Hub TV was giving away backpacks to hundreds of economically-disadvantaged five-year olds. The news anchor said the network was doing this to provide these children school supplies they might not normally be able to afford. But considering Hub is launching next month and each backpack was emblazoned with a gigantic Hub logo, I'm guessing that they're also trying to get these kids to watch their network. Either that or Hub TV had a teeny problem with Cafe Press and the Channel 9 news van was at the right place at the right time.
The Merchandising Network
Again, maybe I'm overreacting. Perhaps it's no different than these kids wearing Mickey Mouse t-shirts or Power Rangers pjs. Perhaps I'm just naïve about marketing to children. But I gotta believe that there's a better way for Hub to get their message out than to take advantage of underprivileged children and turning them into walking billboards for their network.