Advertising Ushers in New Era for The N

The N, Nickelodeon’s evening network aimed at tweens and teens, entered Madison Avenue’s realm on May 28, running commercials from Clearasil skin cream and Skintimates shaving gel.

Jim Perry, senior vice president of Nickelodeon advertising sales, said the spots represent the initial salvos from more than a dozen advertisers that have committed so far.

The units — up to six minutes of national spots per hour, plus one for operators — made The N the first of Nick’s Digital TV Networks (which include NickToons and GAS) to welcome ad support, according to a network spokeswoman.

Perry said the Clearasil buy emanated from the scatter market over the past two months, and that more advertisers would gradually come aboard in the months ahead. “There are some third-quarter scatter deals and others that will begin running in the fourth quarter from the upfront.”

Through deals forged during the kids and Nickelodeon’s adult upfront, he said three-quarters of the N’s advertising business had been accounted for by the middle of last week. Negotiations were continuing in the adult upfront market.

The top four categories for The N — known as Noggin by day when it serves as an educational outlet for preschoolers — are movie studios, health and beauty aids, retail and food/beverage.

“It’s safe to say that we’ll have deals with all of the studios, minus one, by the end of the upfront,” Perry said. “The studios know these young girls are a very important and difficult audience to reach and are targeting them as evidenced by [recent theatricals] Mean Girls and 13 Going on 30.”

He said The N, now reaching some 40 million households, skews heavily female at this point: Depending on show and daypart, 65%-75% of viewers are teen and tween girls.

Perry said The N’s efforts benefited here because Disney Channel, another network with a strong affinity among girls, remains commercial-free.

Perry sees more business coming from consumer electronics and wireless providers that “continue to age their campaigns down.”

On the programming front this summer, The N will unveil eight new episodes of its popular series Degrassi: The Next Generation, beginning June 4.

The N goes reality July 2 with the premiere of its battle-of-the-sexes series, Girls V. Boys Hawaii. Shot on location in Kona, a pair of three-team squads will vie for a grand prize of $30,000 over eight half-hour episodes.