It’s an interesting marketing move by television giant Nickelodeon, made even more interesting by the fact that they more or less decided not to bother advertising it: Nickelodeon has thrown their hat into the interactive online kiddie environment ring with the brand-new world of Nicktropolis.
Yesterday, this article detailed the launch, ending with this rather vague bit:
Nicktropolis will launch without advertising, but it expects to incorporate marketers in myriad ways, according to Stephen Youngwood, executive vp at Nickelodeon and MTVN Kids & Family Group.
Has anyone seen any advertising or “incorporated marketers” in association with this? No? Me neither. (But wait; I’m talking about it right now. Somehow I’ve become an unwitting pawn in their game! Aiiieeeee!)
The Yahoo! News article had a few slightly more informative tidbits, as well:
In Nicktropolis, kids can customize the appearance of an avatar, the onscreen character with which they navigate a digital world complete with its own currency. The environment includes branded regions like Nicktoon Boulevard, where surfers can visit rooms inspired by such Nick shows as “SpongeBob SquarePants” and “Danny Phantom.” Avatars can interact with icons representing characters from the shows or cue up episodes for viewing.
It’s hard to know how I feel about it, really. On the one hand, I appreciate that it’s completely free (unlike Webkinz, which requires purchase of a stuffed animal), and I like the safety features (Nicktropolis offers various restricted levels of chat, much like Penguin Island). On the other hand, wouldn’t I rather that my kids not spend their time on the computer watching more cartoons?
Then again, if I’m going to let them watch SpongeBob SquarePants, isn’t it sort of cool to let them play a game where they can go hang out in his pineapple?
I’ll be very curious to see if Nicktropolis develops the sort of following that other sites of its kind have, or if Nick has just overreached and produced a pale imitation of the great communities already giving our kids a safe place to play and interact. I guess time will tell.