My Little Pony: Audience Is Magic

By: David Tile | Founder @
Posted On: April 01, 2014

Ponies, ponies everywhere!  From the toys that line the aisles of department stores to the large conventions where people dress up like their favorite, colorful crusader of friendship and magic, it’s impressive that this brand from the ‘80s is making such an impact today. It’s not just the toys and the addictive cartoon that created this prosperous age of pony, but the audience surrounding it, proving once again that audience is magic when it comes to content. You’ll find that out on any content writing websites you check out.

Accept Who Your Audience Is

Telling you that audience is key in content is no big secret. In an article for Forbes, Jayson DeMers writes that companies that are successful with their content strategies share one common factor, “they understand their audiences very, very well.” However, there are times when your content will reach an unexpected audience. In your strategy, you may have a specific target in mind, but what happens when your content reaches someone outside of your market?

This is what happened with “My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic.”

The reimagining of Hasbro’s ponies came about in 2010. The intended audience was young girls, and while the target audience did take to the show, a new audience came in the form of what’s been called Bronies. Not only is this audience older than the intended audience, but this audience consists largely of men. There’s a bit of a negative connotation with the brony label and the idea of grown men being a fan of a cartoon aimed at young girls. Like any audience of any brand, there’s a chance of a bad seed, if you will. That’s not to say that all bronies are bad — far from it, actually — but all it takes is one foul person in your audience to get the ball rolling.

So what was Hasbro to do?  Would they distance themselves from these bronies, perhaps even change their brand somehow so it would only reach their intended target audience?  According to an article by Judann Pollack for Advertising Age, Hasbro accepted their new audience. He quotes Margaret Loesch, the CEO of the Hub (the network that shows the cartoon), in saying that the show “is popular with kids and a loyal group of adults, and we tried to embrace that.”

Listen to Your Audience and Show That You’re Listening

Pollack states that, “(A)ny good marketer today knows that their brand isn’t their own — it belongs to its fans.” Hasbro took this knowledge and ran with it. Instead of distancing themselves from bronies, they decided to show them that they, not only embraced them, but that they were listening.

Enter social media in two important ways:

  • Having references in the show to things that a more adult audience would understand
  • Listening to their online audience and responding to them creatively

Pollack mentions a number of things that My Little Pony has done to put a smile on their adult audience’s faces. From subtle movie references like “The Big Lebowski” to doing Youtube parodies, the company kept up its bright and colorful image meant for children and slipped in clever nods to the older audience it had gained. So instead of disregarding this new audience that some felt would have a negative image, the show included them and expanded its market.

This became increasingly noticeable when fans took to forums to talk about the show. The best example is with a pony called Derpy Hooves. Back in the first episode, this pony was just a background character whose eyes were crossed. Viewers of the show went online and posted the single image of this pony, labeling it Derpy Hooves for the “derpy” expression on its face (derpy being slang for silly). Hasbro noticed this and started putting the cross-eyed pony in other episodes, giving off a Where’s Waldo vibe. Not only that, but the series creator, Lauren Faust, gave a wink to fans after stating that the pony’s name would be Derpy instead of the name it had in the script, “Ditzy Doo.”

Hasbro’s audience could clearly see that the show’s creators were not only listening to them, but they were accepting their ideas and incorporating them into their brand. It’s one thing to offer social media links to your brand, and another thing to respond to a tweet or two, but to include your audience in such a way is pure marketing genius. And what do these magical ponies have to show for it?  Well, check out the stats below from a five hour Mare-a-thon back in 2012, according to Amanda Kondolojy of Zap 2 It, where it significantly outperformed the Hub’s past numbers from the previous year:

  • Kids 6-11 (+165%)
  • Kids 2-11 (+160%)
  • Women 18-49 (+233%),
  • Adults 18-49 (+168%)
  • Persons 2+ (+174%)
  • Households (+178%).

Along with this mare-a-thon came a Valentine’s Day episode that became the Hub’s second highest rated episode in history. Today, the ponies are in their fourth season, ready to take the world by rainbows and magic. It’s a clear sign of appreciating your audience and listening to what they have to say.

The ultimate goal of content marketing is offering your target audience information and materials that will engage them and motivate them to choose your business. 

Seems easy, right? 

Often, companies will simply share general content to please everyone. But let’s be honest: you can’t win them all. And that’s okay! 

Rather than throwing a line and hoping the fish will bite, create Thought Leadership content strategically catered to your target market. Consider the people who would genuinely need or care about what your business offers, rather than wasting time, effort, and resources on creating general, unfocused content. Successful content marketing involves promoting your products and services to the people interested in the subject matter, who will read the content, click on your company website, and take action. 

As an executive of an organization, you are a valuable piece of the brand. Consumers want to know about the human presence leading companies, in order to understand more about the company’s values and goals. 

Take advantage of your position as an industry expert and share extra content to attract more attention to yourself as an industry leader and your company. Your quality content will build your reputation as a reliable voice to earn your consumer’s trust. However, if it’s not focused on your target audience, you won’t earn many conversions from your content. 

Consider these techniques to guide your Thought Leadership content so it can expand and strengthen your loyal consumer following:

  • Identify your target audience by reviewing your current consumer data and identifying who is investing in your business or reacting to your thought leadership materials so far. Look for trends to find why these people are interested and if others like them haven’t been reached yet. 
  • Conduct customer research to learn how they will respond to your thought leadership content. Request participation in surveys, polls, social media comments, and more to learn about your existing impression on your audience and how you can improve your platform. 
  • Create target audience character profiles. Identify their interests, demographics, pain points, needs, and desires, and write to them.
  • Find where your current and potential audience is active online.  Catch their attention by being active and sharing your content marketing materials on these platforms.
  • Pull inspiration from other Thought Leader examples. Research other executives within your field who implement successful content marketing through their personal platforms. Learn what qualities make their content attractive and why readers respond to it positively. These examples can offer a base for you to visualize what you want to achieve. 
  • Recognize your strengths as a Thought Leader. Often, leaders aren’t necessarily aware of the unique talents that give them an advantage in their industry until asked. Reflect on what topics you know best and how to input your insights to humanize your materials, make them original and more engaging for your audience. 


Case Study: How Strategic Content Marketing Can Broaden Your Audience

In our client strategy calls, our team will interview our expert clients to learn about their industry expertise and find out what’s meaningful to them, their business, and then identify who we believe to be their target audience. We use these insights to inspire our content subject matter and tone to create impactful content for their current and potential consumers.

Dr. Desai’s COVID PreCheck App Content Marketing

For example, our client, Dr. Nitin Desai, approached our strategy team to create content to promote his COVID Pre-Check app. His innovative software is intended to help employers ensure their employees who enter the office are COVID-free, providing a safe environment by eliminating the chance of spread. 

Our team of strategists recognized that with Dr. Desai’s thorough professional knowledge around the COVID-19 virus, he had the potential to become a reliable voice in a culture of people seeking answers. We created content for Dr. Desai that focused on sharing COVID-related insights to reach a wider audience, which has been a successful mission. Our thoroughly planned content reflected his industry expertise, which brought him attention from various media outlets and publications, including Forbes

By reaching out to our professional content marketing team, Dr. Desai achieved his goal of promoting his groundbreaking app, while also positioning himself as an authoritative voice in his field. Our team learned about his voice, discovered what was meaningful to him and his target audience, and optimized this to create focused, engaging content that broadened his consumer scope. 

Ready to Invest In Your Thought Leadership Package? 

At, we understand that you have a lot on your plate. Let us share your voice on your behalf, so you don’t need to add more time to your busy schedule to write your own content marketing. Our strategists and creators will develop a plan to create engaging materials to represent your Thought Leader brand through your own specialized Thought Leadership Package

Let us help you strengthen and broaden your consumer base for continued professional success. Book a call today.