Nickelodeon president talks success

  The president of Nickelodeon spoke at UVM about the evolution of the Nickelodeon Brand identity to a full Grand Maple Ballroom on Nov. 4 as part of the Dean’s Leadership Series Event.   Cyma Zarghami, president of Nickelodeon, set out to rebrand the company’s identity at a pivotal moment: the kids who grew up watching Nick’ programming were now becoming parents.    “That is a really unique moment in time for any brand,” Zarghami said. “[The network knew] if we don’t capture this generation of kids and their parents together, we will miss a whole generation, and we’ll find ourselves in a bad place a few years from now.”   Zarghami came to UVM as an elementary education student in 1980, and, although she didn’t finish her degree, she was later rewarded an honorary diploma, according to UVM BORED’s website.   Now, two decades later, Zarghami sits at the helm of the highly profitable Nickelodeon enterprise that generates 40 percent of the annual revenue of parent company Viacom, University Communications stated.   Nickelodeon’s effort to rebrand the company’s identity began just after Zarghami became president in 2006.   The end result after two and a half years was a major consolidation of all the Nickelodeon channels and divisions under one unified brand, according to University Communications.   Even the Nickelodeon logo, the iconic paint blob, got a new look.   “We took the Nickelodeon logo and reinvented it so it could actually be the mother brand for everything we do around the globe,” Zarghami said.   Zarghami spoke of the early days when there was still some uncertainty that children’s programming could find a niche in the television industry.   “All of us could fit into a conference room to celebrate a birthday,” she said.   The Nickelodeon Television network is so successful in fact, that it has topped Disney and other competitors in the burgeoning children’s entertainment niche, even though it was once thought to be somewhat risky, University Communications stated.   At UVM, Zarghami changed her major from elementary education to English, but she never lost her desire to work with children, and that was partly what drew her to Nickelodeon.   “I’m in this for the audience, not necessarily to be in the entertainment business,” Zarghami said. “It’s because it’s for kids that makes it so much fun.”   Today, as president of Nickelodeon/MTV network Kids & Family Group, Zarghami oversees the merchandise, international, digital and recreation arms of the company, according to University Communications.   “For a long time, I was the thing that wouldn’t leave,” she said. “I just kept working hard and stuck around, and they gave me bits and pieces of more responsibility.”   Zarghami said that the great thing about becoming president of Nickelodeon was that it was a slow build.   “I learned everything one piece at a time, and I think that’s a rare opportunity these days because everything moves so quickly,” she said.