Junk advertised on Channel One News: Cybiko (2001)

May 3, 2017

Screen shot from Channel One News.


Watch Channel One’s commercial:     C1 Cybiko 111601

From Jim Metrock:

I become ill when I think of what Channel One News has advertised to American schoolchildren.  I have been watching their commercials since 1996 up until several years ago when they made it virtually impossible for the public to see their ads.  Today, what Channel One News advertises to schoolchildren is shrouded with North Korea-like secrecy.

Nowadays Channelone.com replays each daily show online for all to see.  However, the version shown online for parents and others is heavily edited.  At the two commercial breaks, parents are greeted with blackness.  The ads have been removed.  Channel One believes the advertising is simply between them and the students.  In addition, Channel One only keeps the last daily show on its website. Tuesday’s show disappears once the Wednesday show is posted.

So to give people an idea of what Channel One News considers to be responsible advertising, I am going back into our vault and will feature in the coming months typical Channel One commercials from the past.

Our first commercial is for a $99 Russian handheld computer. The Channel One commercial doesn’t tell the students how much it costs, because Cybiko and Channel One don’t want the student to pay for it. They want the student to nag their parents to buy it.

Channel One signed up Cybiko as an advertiser and saturated their in-school TV show with their cheaply made commercials.  Like most ads for expensive products that appear on Channel One News, the price is not disclosed.  They just want to create desire.

The Cybiko is a Russian handheld computer introduced in the U.S. by David Yang’s company Cybiko Inc. as a retail test market in New York on April 2000, and rolled out nationwide in May 2000.  It is designed for teens, featuring its own two-way radio text messaging system

The marketing of Cybiko products. From Dead Media Archive:

President of Cybiko, Inc. Donald Wisniewski made it no secret that part of their marketing strategy was to emulate the Japanese toy companies that had had great success in the United States. They looked at foreign models like Bandai and Takara for inspiration. They even chose the name Cybiko because they thought it had a Japanese sound to it. The kids like the name, It sounds like something that they want to play — some high-tech gadget out of Asia”, said Wisniewski. (Stanton) Aside from their admiration for the Japanese toy companies, Cybiko, Inc. did not have any real ties to Japan and had no offices or employees there. It was all simply part of their marketing scheme. (Stanton)

Cybiko’s reliance on their Japanese toy predecessors is VERY evident in their ads, particularly their commercials. This ad spot was running during the year 2000, and features asian people speaking English, talking about the Cybiko, but with very, very heavy Japanese accents.


Within the first year of Cybiko, Wisniewski and his team had raised almost 20 million dollars in venture capital. So apparently riding the coat-tails of the Japanese toy craze was a smart decision. After having trouble getting a commitment from any of he big name U.S. toy players like Mattel and Hasbro, the team took the Cybiko to the American International Toy Fair in New York City. After the publicity they received at the toy expo, some major retailers began selling it in stores. CompUSA, FAO Shwartz and Staples were among the early adopters. Gradually more toy stores, electronic stores, and even office supply stores across the country picked up the Cybiko and sales began to reach the millions. In September of 2000 AOL bought an undisclosed share of Cybiko Wireless, Inc., rumored to be anywhere from 20-30%. By December of 2000, “Cybiko held the third-largest share of the youth electronics and communications market, behind Tiger Electronics and Kid Designs, according to NPD Toys, a market research company.” (Stanton) Nowhere was this mega popularity more evident than in schools. Cybikos were becoming a phenomenon, and there presence could be seen as positive or negative. Cybiko representatives argued that all of the devices educational tools, like language converters, dictionaries, organizers and its potential as an educational tool would outweigh any negative effects. But educators began having trouble with students gaming, text messaging and more during classes, and as a result Cybiko use was either banned or restricted at many schools.

For full article: http://cultureandcommunication.org/deadmedia/index.php/Cybiko

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