Programme Development – Creative or Marketing Driven?

Posted on: Thursday 07 July 2011 7:06pm


Nina Koo-Seen-Lin listens in to find out the key ingredients for successful development.

Introduced by: Guy Tomlinson (Managing Director/Consultant, The Marketing Directors)


Speakers: John Rice (CEO of Jam Media), Shari Donnenfield (Consultant of Shari Donnenfield Consulting), Esra Cafer (Global Vice President of Brand Management and Marketing at Chorian plc)


Guy Tomlinson promises a heated debate in the style of Mrs Merton, while three distinguished people from the worlds of creative development, research and marketing come together to protest why their jobs are important in the crazy world of children’s media along with the  ingredients needed for a successful development project. He mentions Simon Cowell and his aversion to any kind of research as it “stunts the creativity” process. Hmmm, there’s not many “Mr High-Waisted-Trousers” fans in the room according to a few ‘tut’s and rolling of the eyes, but is he right?


John is here to talk about development. His company, Jam Media are the proud creators of PICME – a programme where a photo of a child’s head is superimposed on a cartoon and placed in a cartoon world, Roy – a show about an animated boy living in the real world (he’s an ordinary boy that just happens to be a cartoon) and Tilly and Friends  rather cute animation that John had fun developing. John is a creative person, so of course coming up with the spark that turns into an idea is the most important thing. “Every development is different” John says, “but the end game is the same, to get it out there to an audience.” He admits the research is a great help – he was able to find out that the colour green is so unfashionable now, darling, and he had a lesson on various territories that pigs don’t do well in. But ultimately for John, development is the future – long may it continue.


Shari is next to defend her job as a researcher. She has a CV longer than the Queen’s honorary list (and that’s saying something!). She has pretty pictures that will symbolize her main points. First image is a Rubix cube to describe the process of coming up with a children’s programme. Looks nice, simple and colourful when in fact it’s pretty frustrating to do. A collage of various children pulling an array of faces that a contortionist would be proud of.

Shari uses this slide to show that most adults don’t “get” children – unless they’re clowns or something (cue photo of a clown that could be Ronald McDonald’s second cousin twice removed). Kids get kids and that’s why they’re an important part of the research process. They’re the audience and they’re desperate to help.  Shari keeps it short but sweet. She states what should be the obvious – everything, in order to be successful must be researched and evaluated in order to make changes (be it subtle or big) in order to achieve success. Research should be used as a tool, and the earlier it’s used the less money and time is wasted. 


Last but definitely not least is Esra – the voice for marketing. Brand marketing according to Esra is used to guide a brand, product, idea and help it to gain its full potential. Those in marketing want to help developers create something that an audience will constantly recognize, return to and choose for the long run. “Delivering the love” is how Esra puts it – a rather nice way of putting it.


Two positive conclusions emerge at the end:  One: development, research and marketing need to come together and form a culture that will create something worthy. This is something that can be achieved by being open and trusting with a willingness to listen to thoughts and opinions. After all, everyone’s trying to achieve the same ending.  Conclusion Two: Simon Cowell was wrong.