Cartoon penguins have been all the rage on TV and in movies, from the mischievous team of four in Madagascar, to the adorable Coca-Cola ads at Christmas, and, most recently, the box office hit, Happy Feet. We can't forget that old clay-mation show, Pingu, too.
It's no wonder then that Club Penguin, a virtual world for tweens, has been invented. U.S. tweens have an annual purchasing power of $40 billion, and 90 per cent of these kids are online. It was only a matter of time before marketers found a way to target them.
Club Penguin averages about 1.6 million unique visitors each month. Membership is free, and registration gets you a small virtual penguin. There are an abundance of intriguing extra features too, but users must pay a $6 monthly fee, or $58 a year, to gain access.
The penguins are adopted and named by the user who then becomes responsible for feeding and clothing the little critters. By playing games, they can win points which convert into virtual cash to help them customize their igloos.
â€œClub Penguin Timeâ€ (based on Pacific Time) makes meet-ups with international Club Penguin friends a lot easier if they are planning a chat time; they don't need to worry about coordinating time zones.
Club Penguin holds themed parties at different times of the year. In November, anticipated built up when the game writers started releasing news of a storm on the site's weather reports. By the time December hit, kids were logging in at record rates to see if the storm had come yet. When it did, the penguins had to dig tunnels after snow dumped in every virtual room. The penguins also had to repair Captain Rock Hopper's pirate ship which had taken a beating from the storm. Unique visitors for the month jumped to over 20 per cent.
Club Penguin is a fun, safe world and is free of advertising, making it an ideal place for young kids to hang out online. It exposes them to the internet and allows them to make friendly connections with other kids around the world.
Stay tuned for more virtual worlds aimed at kids and tweens: Disney just re-launched Disney Xtreme Digital (DXD) and Nickelodeon released Nicktropolis.com at the end of January. Unfortunately these two media giants will be using commercial ads.
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