April 5, 2008

Goodnight, Seagull. Goodnight, Sprout. Goodnight, Bedtime Television Going Ballsout

"It's time for bed now. Goodnight, from Aquafresh."

As so-called "researchers, pediatricians, cognitive development scientists, and neurologists" stoke the fires of outrage and goad their non-profit lackeys, the heartless, joykilling communistic social activists to attack, where can a worn out parent turn when all she [sic] wants is to get the kid to sleep--and to help him develop deep, longlasting relationships with selfless characters, properties, brands, and advertisers? To her trusted, lifelong friend and parenting ally: television.

Because since at least 2005 executives at kids TV networks in the US and UK have been refining their bedtime programming blocks, trying to make television watching an indispensable part of the kid's bedtime ritual.

From the latest issue of Kidscreen:

Helping parents help kids

Along with becoming an integral part of their viewers' daily rituals, these broadcasters are also striving to air and produce content that both helps and entertains parents. For example, CBeebies has a celebrity host from an adult-oriented BBC show visit the bedtime block and read stories every night for a week, which [BBC Children's head of scheduling, Philip] Stagg admits is designed to draw in parents.


parents are approaching the content as an ally in what can be a nightly struggle. "We're seeing a surge in bedtime programming because Mom wants and needs it, and advertisers [on commercial nets] are going to pay for it," says Gary Pope, a partner at Kids Industries, a UK-based research and marketing company. KI recently helped create branded content for [Turner Broadcasting's UK preschool channel] Cartoonito's bedtime schedule to launch a new Aquafresh toothpaste intended for kids under 10. The 90-second spot that's been airing since November focuses on a set of characters called Nurdles that are essentially squirts of toothpaste come to life. And at 6:58 p.m. every evening on Cartoonito, the Nurdles show kid viewers how to brush their teeth.


"We've done a lot of research in the area of brushing teeth, and it's become known as the bathroom battle," says Pope. In previous research he's conducted, 86% of parents agreed that characters can help kids develop self-efficacy around environmental issues, hygiene and citizenship. He says the prompt from these characters going through this pivotal element of bedtime preparation on TV encourages kids to brush their teeth and talk about the Nurdles with their parents as they do so. Though the segment is branded, Pope says the focus remains on brushing teeth and bedtime in general, with a call-out for Aquafresh appearing only at the very end.


Cute: pretending that red, white and blue-striped toothpaste blobs are not branded. Even cuter: helping kids focus on "environmental issues, hygiene, and citizenship" by naming dancing cartoon characters after the raw plastic resin pellets that are a major source of ocean and beach debris and a major cause of marine life starvation.

The press release from Turner Media Innovations, or TMI (seriously) gives more context on the connection between bedtime toothbrushing, global petrochemical pollution, and baby marketing:

Turner Media Innovations scoops Aquafresh campaign

18 October 2007

Turner Media Innovations and MediaCom have negotiated a unique advertising campaign on behalf of GlaxoSmithKline’s Aquafresh range of toothpaste for children.

The two year six-figure deal, that demonstrates the breadth of Turner Media Innovation’s (TMi) media consultancy directive, will see TMi create an entire advertising campaign for Aquafresh brands – Milk Teeth for 0-3 years, Little Teeth for 4-6 and Big Teeth for 6+ – which will be rolled out across digital and terrestrial channels in the UK.

TMi has created a song called the Nurdle Shmurdle song which highlights fun aspects of teeth brushing. A nurdle is the quirky name for a squirt of toothpaste.

Set to go live on 19 November, a 90 second spot will play exclusively every night at 7pm on Turner Broadcasting’s preschool channel Cartoonito, the daily time when the channel ceases airing, and to promote brushing teeth before bedtime. This slot has been secured for the entire two years.

The spot is both 3D animation, bringing to life the red, white and blue Aquafresh colours in the form of three nurdles called Billy, Lilly and Milky, who each represent one of the age groups; and live action, with 9 Aquafresh kids performing the accompanying dance to the Nurdle Shmurdle song.

Adam Eagle, Director of Sponsorship & Promotions at Turner Media Innovations says: “This is a huge deal which aptly exemplifies the broad scope of TMi. In addition to fantastic looking creative, we commissioned bespoke research via our consumer insights team to ensure optimum targeting and efficient execution. The result is a dynamic campaign which Aquafresh can put to work for its kids range, and one which we’re very proud of.” [emphasis added]

Oh wait, no it doesn't. Never mind! Nurdle Schmurdle, then off to bed! No, that seagull isn't dead, honey; he's just sleeping. With the fishes.

Nighty night! - Kidcasters shaping evening schedules to reflect preschool bedtime rituals [kidscreen.com]
About the size of a pea, perhaps?: Nurdle: "also called a pre-production plastic pellet or plastic resin pellet, is a pellet typically under 5mm in diameter" [wikipedia]
0-3 Activities | Nurdles Movie | It's Schmurdle Time! [aquafresh.co.uk, or in widescreen at the guardian.co.uk]
Turner Media Innovations scoops Aquafresh campaign [adsales.turnerinfo.com]
Uh-oh, the American Dental Association got involved: "So how much toothpaste should you use, given all those millions spent on the product? A 'nerdle' says the ADA." [doubletongued.org]


Nice job, DT.

I wonder if they actually did enough research to find out the word was already invented, and decided it would be ok, or whether they did no research at all?

I expect we'll never know.

[The ADA reference dates back to 1996, so I expect the toothpaste industry called it a nurdle back when the styrofoam/plastic blob reference, wasn't primarily associated with poisonous killers of Mother Earth's Oceans. Still, it took like 3 seconds on Google to see the connection. -ed.]

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