Disney using psychological science to capture young male demos
I found this article in The New York Times extremely….interesting:
Ms. Peña and her team of anthropologists have spent 18 months peering inside the heads of incommunicative boys in search of just that kind of psychological nugget. Disney is relying on her insights to create new entertainment for boys 6 to 14, a group that Disney used to own way back in the days of “Davy Crockett” but that has wandered in the age of more girl-friendly Disney fare like “Hannah Montana.”
Children can already see the results of Ms. Peña’s scrutiny on Disney XD, a new cable channel and Web site (disney.go.com/disneyxd). It’s no accident, for instance, that the central character on “Aaron Stone” is a mediocre basketball player. Ms. Peña, 45, told producers that boys identify with protagonists who try hard to grow. “Winning isn’t nearly as important to boys as Hollywood thinks,” she said.
Fearful of coming off as too manipulative, youth-centric media companies rarely discuss this kind of field research. Disney is so proud of its new “headquarters for boys,” however, that it has made an exception, offering a rare window onto the emotional hooks that are carefully embedded in children’s entertainment. The effort is as outsize as the potential payoff: boys 6 to 14 account for $50 billion in spending worldwide, according to market researchers.
I am not surprised at the science behind this, and also not surprised that Disney and surely pretty much everyone else (especially advertisers) are employing such methods. As noted, the stakes are very high.
What surprises me though is that Disney is so proud of its efforts it wants to talk about them. While I’m all for this sort of disclosure, and the ensuing discussions it will (hopefully) generate, it surprises me because I really don’t see any upside for the bravado in this instance.