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Taran Swan and Nickelodeon Essay

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Updated: Jul 10th, 2019

Nickelodeon established its name as a cable channel of choice for kids aged 2 to 11 years old since its inception in 1978. It was, however, acquired by the entertainment powerhouse Vacom in 1986.

Nickelodeon sought to increase variety of its products and went beyond the ordinary cartoons which were common among kids’ channels. The extra programs included sports and game shows, comedy, drama, live-action, animation and music.

This increased the firm’s market share as well as its ratings, making it the most popular kids’ television channel in the United States by 1986. Consequently, the firm aimed at expanding its services to incorporate the international market.

Customization of the products to fit the local markets became the entry strategy for its global ventures. As a result, each foreign branch came up with its unique slogan and did most of its shows in local languages. Channels were launched by a special dedicated team comprising only of staff loyal to the brand.

It is important to note that Nickelodeon had made brand loyalty part of its corporate culture. Consequently, each branch they opened was successful and by 1998 Nickelodeon was operating in over 30 countries.

Due to the increased pressure to venture into new markets, Taran Swan who was then the director of business development for Nickelodeon international thought of opening a branch in Latin America in 1963. The problem was that the Latin American economy was highly unpredictable due to volatile currencies and frequent devaluations.

Moreover, Latin America was not prepared given that its infrastructure for cable industry was in its initial stages of development. Consequently, the success of Nickelodeon in Latin America was obscure. Similarly, Nickelodeon was used to serving each country individually and management was not sure of how serving Latin America as a block will affect the business.

After facilitating entrance into Australia and Germany, Swan was in May 1995 asked to replace the launch director. Swan had formed a team that successfully revived the Germany channel before handing it over to local management.

During her three year tenure at nickelodeon, Swan had always been keen on Latin America. She had noticed that development of children’s programs was very slow in this part of the world. Notably, channels in Latin America always had ancient cartoons for children.

These cartoons had lost popularity and she thought it was time new ideas were introduced. Nickelodeon had interesting programs for kids. The programs were tailored in a manner that enhanced social values. Moreover, the channel was gender sensitive and gave kids the voice.

In addition, the channel’s entry strategy recognized cultural background as crucial factor to consider. As a result, she thought they had a high probability of success and becoming kids’ channel of choice in Latin America

Swan only hired new staff after consultation. Otherwise she would go ahead with the help of the Nickelodeon International Swat Team in conjunction with the MTV people. The MTV staff had to shift their focus to children programs unlike what they were used to and Swan made this clear to them.

Their core business was now children programs. Though their competitors did not charge for their programs, Nickelodeon chose not to follow these footsteps.

Swan decided to maintain their corporate culture of ensuring high quality of their products but charge a fee for the services. Despite pressure from many distributors who wanted Nickelodeon on the basics platform for free, Swan decided that customers had to pay a premium to receive channels on the second or third tiers.

Donna Friedman, a member of the swat also proposed that they should be involved in Jornadas, the largest cable trade show in Latin America which draws attendance from across the divide.

Having been involved in the Germany launch, swan had confidence in Friedman’s qualities and knew that she had the creativity to make the venture a success. Swan and Friedman felt that Jornadas was the best forum to generate awareness and demonstrate the experience of Nickelodeon in kids’ programs.

Swan was a risk taker and did not hesitate to hire dedicated staff to Nickelodeon. Moreover, she was a person who usually spoke her mind and a team player thus attracting best employees like Stephen Grieder. This made Nickelodeon successful.

She was also easygoing and fun but she would ask questions so as to get to the bottom of any contentious matter. This was to ensure that everyone would be 100% clear on the idea under discussion. This enhanced the culture of self responsibility and eliminated the tendency of people proposing something they were not ready to work with.

She had faith in her employees and tried very much to ensure that they were part and parcel of any change that was implemented in the institution. She always gave practical strategies which enhanced performance. She ensured that each employee was creative and added value to the institution.

She did not like people who were just executors of what had been brought forward. The vision of the firm was in kids and she wanted to see it succeed. To her, success was not an option. She was friendly with every staff and ensured that everybody was comfortable with the conditions of work. It is important to note that a free working environment with minimal bureaucracy is crucial for creativity.

Initially, Swan used to chair all meetings. However, she realized that this was becoming monotonous and did not make employees feel valued. She then introduced a method where different people would chair meetings each week.

The person chairing a meeting of the week was tasked with the role of steering the functions of the firm during that week. Swan was initially nervous that the meetings would be ineffective. However, she was proofed wrong because things actually improved. As a matter of fact, the employees praised the method.

Despite all the success, Swan faced a lot of challenges. To begin with, many cable distributors were willing to place Nickelodeon on the basic platform but did not want to pay for the programming. Nickelodeon would not accept this though some of its competitors did.

On the same note, all employees did not always work as a team. Disagreement among her employees wasted a lot of productive time when the employees had to be reunited instead of people working. Attracting advertisers was becoming difficult than Swan and her team had thought. Also, Nickelodeon was not used to sharing infrastructure.

Therefore, the tension and misunderstandings with MTV highly affected performance. The only solution was for Swan to get her own infrastructure and this lead to increased costs for the firm. On the same note, there had been a persistent economic downturn in Asia. As a result, Swan was in a precarious situation that was characterized by lack of enough income from the investments made.

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