WHY IS BIG BIRD BIG AND YELLOW?
Good morning. I am here to present our original research for Children’s Television to you, the newly formed Broadcasting Advertising Council. This research was carried out in the late 1940s just before televisions were mass marketed. This was baseline research on consumer use of the technology. These are the fundamental science-based building blocks for the huge, successful growth in children's television programming and brand development.
The very first phase of our fundamental research sought to understand the relationship between children and the new technology of television.
May I have the first slide, please?
Here you see a home-style living room with a mixed group of children ages 3, 4, 5 and 6 and a large Philco television. Look closely. What do you see? You see the children PLAYING, playing with blocks, model cars, the cat, tossing the bean bag, ANYTHING but watching the television. At the very beginning of our research, this was the fundamental relationship between children and the technology of television: children simply weren’t interested! The world was too attractive and they were too curious. These were children whose normal response to life is to play! (Cute, aren’t they?)
Next slide, please.
WHY AM I HERE?
Here you see another typical living-room set with a mixed group of children ages 3, 4, 5 and 6 staring raptly at a large Philco television. Why? Why aren’t they playing? We have captured their attention.
How did we do this? Through behavioral research we discovered various visual and audio techniques are more powerful than reality and could be used to make the children focus their attention on the screen: brightly colored characters, particularly those that are distorted in some way, either bizarrely large for the small screen, with feathers or fur, brightly colored; or with fantastically large heads, or big mouths, and so forth. And sounds are, of course, strong: distorted voices, sound effects or associated noises are most effective.
We tested each of these techniques across the U.S. and included “DISTRACTION TESTING,” to make sure that we could hold the attention of a child for up to 30 minutes at a time. Distraction testing is, of course, where the children are sitting in front of the television and, at the precise moment a character or action we wish to test appears, we create a disturbance in the room, say a spilled bag of candy. If any child goes for the candy, we revise the character and re-test until we have total child attention on the screen
Next slide, please.
WHAT DO I WANT?
This is a cut-away of the typical television set showing the cathode-ray tube.
The final part of our research will explore the effect of the scanning cathode-ray tube on the brain. While the behavioral devices defined by our research have proven to be highly effective techniques for drawing children’s wandering eyes away from reality back to the screen, we believe it is the television tube’s scanning technology that holds the children, indeed all viewers, mesmerized.
As you know, there is actually no single picture on a television screen, just phosphorous dots arranged in 250-line bands which are illuminated a few at a time by the scanning cathode-ray gun. For the same reason children love to play, because they are naturally curious about the world, the child has an in-built compulsion to make sense out of the flickering phantoms of light, to solve this technology’s sensory puzzle and complete the picture. Neuroscientists hypothesize that to do this the brain is hyper-energized and works so hard that television both captures attention and sends the viewer into a vegetative cognitive state.
The electronic baby sitter and teacher and marketer!
Children are learning! Your advertising has used the techniques I have reviewed today and I’m pleased to report that 5- to 7-year-olds have successfully recalled products and performed well on brand identification tests after only a few exposures! Who says kids aren’t smart? I’d say that this will be the key to America’s future! A generation of trained consumers!
So, gentlemen...and lady, you stand at the threshold of a new consumer America! And we will be very happy to include your products in our testing array.
Thank you for your time.
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