Media: Happiness is . . . 'gunging' all the adults

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The Independent Online
'NICKELODEON's for kids,' says Rachel. 'You can forget about adults. They get gunged.' Rachel, aged 10, is taking part in a market research session, explaining how she would describe the channel. Watching from behind a two-way mirror, Nickelodeon's top managers grin broadly, happy that their desired image is getting across. Rachel had been watching a promotional video, which includes drenching some unfortunate teachers in slimy green gunge.

Such sessions, in which small groups of children talk about television with Nickelodeon staff while others watch from behind the mirror, are a crucial part of the company's philosophy that 'everything we do is kid-tested and kid-approved - the only rule is that kids rule'. Each year the channel runs 250 sessions in the US, and is now organising them with British nine- and ten-year-olds.

The children describe the types of shows that they would like to see. Siobhan says she wants programmes where the baddies win. She does not like the formula where 'you know the goodies will always get out'. The Nickelodeon staff put her right, telling her that if the baddies won it would be 'really sad'. Kids rule, but there are limits.

They are more taken with Rachel's idea for 'the day my mum went missing', a comedy about children left to fend for themselves. (Sound familiar?) Zoe suggests a cartoon character with the head of a bee, the body of a human and the voice of a bear, whose friend has an elephant's nose, a goose's body and a crocodile's foot. Together they fly through the Milky Way and meet aliens.

The children also discuss adult programmes such as Casualty, underlining that they watch other things than just children's television. The people at Nickelodeon see this as their marketing opportunity. They want adult programmes, like adults, to be totally gunged.

(Photograph omitted)