If you’re a parent you have probably been asked similar questions.

A few years ago I was showing my young daughter some old B&W photos of her grandparents and other family shots. These progressed to shots of me as a lad, which were in colour.


My daughter asked me straight-faced and innocent: “When did the world change to colour daddy?”

She thought, thanks to the photos, that the world in her grandparent’s day was black and white. Then something equivalent to the dinosaur meteorite changed the world to colour before I was born. An innocent but obvious mistake for a youngster.

I’m sharing this with you because I watch the habits of my kids – particularly their use of new media. Both have iThings – pads, pods, but not phones…yet.

They love their iPads, downloading apps, playing games, competing live with others, watching movies and reading stuff. But there’s something else they also love – the real world of magazines, catalogues and mail.

They get National Geographic and Australian Geographic in the mail each month. They also get, from a friend in the industry, kids magazines. K-Zone and Total Girl. And they check the mailbox every day to see what’s new.

They spend hours reading the magazines and never throw them out, they collect them. They also love reading the catalogues we get in our mailbox and the newspapers. They circle things they like, even tear out pages.

But they really enjoy entering the competitions. They complete the coupons, put them in envelopes, stamp them and they mail them at the post office.

Before Christmas my son entered a competition related to a kids movie and for weeks he wondered if he was going to win. He even knew the date the prize would be drawn.

The day after his birthday last month, a courier arrived at the door asking for my son. The courier had a box, which we thought was a birthday present from a family member. But you guessed it, he won the competition. As he opened the box and realised its contents, he became as animated as I’ve ever seen him. He couldn’t believe he had won – a watch, beanie, movie tickets, water bottle and other movie merchandise. All his mates are envious.

What’s more interesting though, is he has won hundreds of online games, races, puzzles and collected a gazillion virtual gold coins on Super Mario. But he never gets that excited about his virtual rewards.

Yet when the kids get involved in the physical real world, where they can touch, feel and play with the prizes, it really sets their senses going.

Any teacher will tell you kids learn more with multi-sensory experiences. All neural research in the marketing world reveals that people have stronger emotional responses in their brain and higher oxygen blood flow when they can touch and feel something, like a piece of mail for example. The physical is far more powerful than the virtual when it comes to emotional connections.

And yet marketers around the world are ignoring the ways that have always worked and moving their budgets to many digital channels that don’t work, or are yet to prove their worth.

My kids have lived the connected life from the day they were born. They do things with iGadgets about which I have no idea. But they get enormous enjoyment, knowledge and value from physical media as well. I just hope those controlling the marketing budgets understand this and don’t follow fashion.

There is a big opportunity here – who knows, maybe a black and white magazine for kids?