The Answer: SORT OF
Children’s museums around the country strive to create a place focused on the interactions of play and learn. While inclusive of all age ranges, they provide activities geared to the development of young children. This type of museum creates interconnections of art, science, and movement by forming a diverse community.
Unique to each location, children’s museums are typically advertised at local levels, not nationwide. Only airing advertisements based on location and radius is probably a marketing strategy used because children’s museums are specific to the area they are in. For example, the Children’s Museum of Manhattan airs TV commercials only on WPIX Channel 11, a local broadcasting network. Their first commercial was aired during a commercial break of Batman and featured a Superman PEZ container as the personality symbol of the museum. Museums may find it mute to advertise nationwide because the cost of advertisement would be a waste to reach people across the country that have a children’s museum near them and would never travel that distance for a similar experience. However, they are a huge travel draw. Most museums are located in cities, so when planning for a trip, it is likely found by searching for things to do in the area and not by an advertisement.
The Children’s Museum of Pittsburgh does not generate television commercials. However, they do have a YouTube channel on which they are fairly active (https://www.youtube.com/user/pghkids). On their channel, they promote events and show hands-on activities being created. The Children’s Museum of the Upstate in Greeneville, South Carolina is one television ad that seems universal to children’s museums around the country. In the advertisement they use child testimonials to explain what happens at the museum and why others should visit. The children focus on the ability to touch and “play” which is unlike and “adult” museum. These children act as a personality symbol for the “brand” which would be children’s based museums. This museums TV commercial focuses on their mission more than anything, but in an intuitive and discreet way. According to their website, their mission states: “The Children’s Museum of the Upstate sparks a life-long passion for curiosity and learning through play”, and their vision states: “The Children’s Museum of the Upstate seeks to be a leader in innovative family activities, a dynamic learning center, and a compelling community attraction.” The testimonials stress imagination and the opportunity to be anything you want to be, which is supported through the learning supplemented at the museum, which could be used for children’s museums around the world.
What’s Happening Today?
It seems as though museums, and children’s museums in particular, never utilized television advertisements. And recently, there have been even less in the past. Most of the commercials that appeared on YouTube were from 3-4+ years ago, so they are getting away from this channel even more. The aspect of selectivity and imagery/video is very attractive, but statistics on zipping and zapping of commercials makes it an unattractive medium. Institutions use other forms of advertising that would potentially have a greater impact, such as magazine/print, billboards, and word-of-mouth. In my experience, word-of-mouth has been one of the most influential ways of learning about museums.