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Not Just for Kids: Broadening the Appeal of Animated Movies

Published on October 11, 2017, at 2:30 p.m.
by Rachel Tomchin.

Could the target market for animation be defined for all the wrong ages? Most reviews state that the ideal viewers are children age 6+. But does this age group always understand what’s going on?

Animated films are far more insightful than given credit. In fact, I wouldn’t be surprised if the underlying messages in most of them go unseen by their own target audiences.

The audience
Don’t get me wrong; animated movies are in many ways perfect for children — but why not take advantage of the message and direct them at a larger market, with a different angle to make an even bigger profit?

Animated films have more to offer than just bright colors, upbeat songs and happy endings. By advertising the film’s main theme rather than just the entertainment element, an entirely new, older audience could be attracted.

For starters, I believe the whole animation factor places the films at a disadvantage. Not many people older than the Gen Alpha generation take animation very seriously. In addition, commercials don’t do the best job of giving older generations the incentive to go see animated movies in theaters. Thus, animated movies get the reputation of being kid’s movies.

It’s not about change; it’s about growth. The primary target audience can and should continue to be children, but advertisers should expand their reach to a broader age demographic and find ways to appeal to new viewers.

The message
Animated movies have valuable lessons that are often missed because the target audience is too young to comprehend. On the other hand, they are often overlooked by an older audience because they are advertised in the wrong light, thus not taken seriously.

Zootopia, in short, is about a bunny who is “prey” with a dream to become a cop in a society where most cops are “predators”; however, it’s bigger than that. It references stereotypes in society and how traits – good and bad – are assumed to be passed down to your kind. These are not only the underlying messages being missed by the target audience, but they are real-world scenarios that shouldn’t be taken lightly.

These lessons are taken for granted in our world of mindless entertainment. At first look, we classify animated movies as childish, when in fact we are naïve for thinking we are superior to these realities.

On a more comical note, Shrek 2 is filled with humor intended for a more mature audience, yet it’s still classified as a kid-friendly movie. In such situations, animation disguises itself to be something it’s not, and we don’t realize it until we give it a chance. Reviews for “Shrek 2” may say it’s for children 6+, but will any of them really understand the antics of this 2004 film?

While animated movies are great at informing and entertaining, they lack in effective advertising.

The angle

With every new film comes an opportunity for success. Movie producers have done a good job of creating a happy medium with animation, by making it engaging for all ages. However, its advertising could be more captivating to all viewers and not just limiting to its understood market. Yes, they need to appeal to their target market first, but why not promote to a broader audience, as well?

If profit is the ultimate goal in the movie industry, they shouldn’t limit themselves to one market segment.

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