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The Mobile Design Tent-Pole

In Hollywood, executives like to use the term “tent-pole” to describe their movies and television shows. The term has dual meanings: one is business, and the other creative. The business goal of a tent-pole production is to support or prop up the losses from other productions. However, to create a tent-pole production, the creators involved must make an artistic work that they know will appeal to the largest possible audience, providing something for everyone. You probably know tent-pole movies as “blockbusters”; in television, they are known as “anchor” shows.

Trying to reach the widest possible audience poses a problem. Hollywood is learning with great pains that with so many entertainment options and with today’s audience being so hard to reach through traditional advertising channels, tent-pole productions are failing. As the number of social niches increases, it becomes difficult to satisfy the specific tastes of each social group. What one group finds hysterically funny, several other groups might find offensive. Today, tent-pole productions often come off as bland and half-hearted, failing to appease anyone.

One of the most interesting examples of how the tide turned in entertainment is with the animated films of Disney versus those of Pixar. For years, Disney produced tent-pole family fare quite successfully. But as competition increased, notably from Pixar, Disney films would spend millions to create stale and dated films, losing audiences and ...

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