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Kids’ shows, grown-up returns?
Abu Dhabi’s twofour54 has just signed a deal to create a range of children’s books in English and Arabic. But can entertainment aimed at the ‘little ones’ ever attract big money from Middle East advertisers and marketers?
March 4, 2010 1:14 by Ben Flanagan
Other characters geared towards children include ‘Hamdoon’, produced by the Abu Dhabi Authority for Culture and Heritage to represent “aspects of the UAE’s cultural and social life”, and Modhesh, the mascot of the Dubai Shopping Festival.
Ali Mustafa, director and producer of City of Life, the feature film shot in Dubai, says he expects more children’s content to be created in the future. “In terms of Dubai, everything is happening so quickly,” he says. “Give us a bit more time, and I’m sure someone will create a hit Arabic character.”
But John acknowledges that advertisers and marketers have still not embraced children’s entertainment.
“With the famous exception of the Harry Potter phenomenon, it wouldn’t be particularly wise to invest much money in this sector. Marketers are very wary about this sector because of the ethical angle. Food and drink manufacturers can’t be seen weaning children on unhealthy diets from an early age.”
“But I think that will eventually change, and marketers will find young kids to be a good source [of revenue].”
The Middle East boasts one of the largest youth populations in the world. But while marketers and advertisers have targeted this – ASDA’A Burson-Marsteller’s Youth Survey centers on the 18-24 age group – they have not paid as much attention to the pre-teen audience.
“For us, the 18-24 group is where young adults have much more spending power; they get married earlier, they get jobs,” says John. “Would we ever do an Arab Children’s Survey? I don’t think that’s something we’d look at.”
And so, it could be a while before we see an ‘Arabic’ Harry Potter. And Baher the Builder could be unemployed for some time yet.