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New Skechers Kiddie Show Is Going to Walk a Fine Line

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In a move that blurs the line between show biz and shoe biz as well as advertising and entertainment, Nicktoons will air Zevo-3, an animated show that’s based on comic book characters developed by Skechers.

Zevo-3, which depicts a group of teens who are given super powers, is set to air Oct. 11. To help publicize the new show, Skechers is including a “sizzle reel” DVD in 1 million shoe boxes starting in August. The show is what Skechers hopes will be just the first from Skechers Entertainment, a unit that was created in 2009.

Kristen Van Cott, svp, creative development for that division, said Zevo-3 won't contain any Skechers product placement, but the brand will advertise on the network and is likely to run a campaign for the show eight weeks or so before it premieres.

Van Cott said the show came about organically. In 2007, the company began giving away comic books in its shoe boxes based on a character called Kewl Breeze. After that giveaway got a positive response, the company began using the character in its advertising for its Airators shoes. (Skechers didn’t work with an ad agency to create those ads.) After that, the property took off, Van Cott said.

“People started coming into stores asking where they could see the show,” she said, “and we started getting requests for more comic books.” Over time, the company introduced more characters, including Elastica, the first female in the group.

Van Cott said Skechers was careful to make sure the show didn’t violate any federal guidelines related to marketing to kids. In recent years, there has been a lot of focus on children’s programming, particularly in relation to ads for junk food. In 2008, the Federal Trade Commission solicited information from 44 top marketers, including PepsiCo and Coca-Cola, for a report that examined how the companies advertised their products to kids. The FTC eventually ruled in favor of industry self-regulation. Meanwhile, the FCC’s rules regarding advertising to children merely stipulate that shows based on advertising-derived characters like Zevo-3 are fine as long as the marketer doesn’t run ads during the show.

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