“I’m just a bill."
“Three is a magic number.”
“Conjunction Junction, what’s your function?”
“Lolly, Lolly, Lolly, get your adverbs here.”
If you remember those phrases, you’ve seen some of the most effective content ever created for a television audience.
They’re all lyrics from Schoolhouse Rock, the animated shorts that paired catchy tunes and memorable characters with valuable lessons about math, history, grammar, science and other school subjects.
The series debuted in 1973 and aired until 1984 during ABC’s Saturday morning programming. Since then, the complete series has been released on DVD (I bought it for my kids) and episodes are now available online. (Learn about nouns here and the Preamble of the U.S. Constitution here.)
The earliest Schoolhouse Rock content is fifty years old. Yet, even if you only saw it as a young child, I’d bet you still remember the lessons, as well as the infectious melodies.
That’s because Schoolhouse Rock is a perfect example of content designed to entertain first and inform second. The creators understood that pitching “homework” to kids during Saturday morning cartoons would be a tough sell, unless they made their three-minute films irresistibly fun to watch.
So, they invested their collective time, talent and heart to make something valuable that would live in the minds of their young audience long after the initial viewings.
And it worked. Beautifully.
A half century after its debut, Schoolhouse Rock is still entertaining, educating and endearing itself to a new generation.
How might the success of the iconic series inspire you to elevate your company’s marketing and advertising?
Whether it takes the form of TV or radio commercials, pre-roll videos on YouTube or over-the-top (OTT) ads in a streaming environment, your message often comes between your audience and what they want to see or hear, just as Schoolhouse Rock interrupted cartoons. The difference is that the Rock creators intentionally charmed and engaged their viewers. They focused on their audience’s needs. And they gave more than they took.
Are your prospects and customers worth that same type of effort? Is your brand worth that same type of commitment?
Do you want people to feel that spending time with your content was a good choice? Would you like them to come back for more and then share what you create with others?
It doesn’t take a huge network budget, original songwriting and a team of animators.
But it does take care, enthusiasm and respect for your audience. It takes the desire to leave people with something special, whether it’s thoughtfully presented information, a sincere smile or a warm feeling that - just maybe - lasts 50 years.