Video - Maurice Wheeler at TEDx Transmedia 2012 - ‘Engaging Kids Online’


Maurice Wheeler is partner at The Little Big Partnership, a specialist consulting firm with a focus on kids and family. Maurice has more than 15 years experience working with clients including Nickelodeon, Disney, Microsoft, Tesco, Universal Music, Procter and Gamble and Lego. He can usually be found reading research papers, preparing presentations, running or playing with his two boys.

At TEDx Transmedia 2012, Maurice talked about how to engage 6-12 year olds online.

Maurice’s website

As long children have food in their stomachs, a roof over their head and the love and support from those who should love and support them, children are focused on developing their identity: who they are and what they stand for.

You cannot think of children as a ‘one size fits all,’ there are many stages of identity development each with their own characteristics and needs.

Control freak children want to section off and control a small piece of the world, rather than worry about the big world out there that they can’t control. This manifests itself in collecting, nurturing, and customising behaviour.

Tribal sharers want to constantly connect, reaffirm and compare themselves with their tribe, they do this through badging, communication and peer comparison.

Identity explorers are trialling new traits and personalities; they do this by having multiple identities live at any one moment. Each identity is associated with a different group of friends, they then cross pollinate these identities when they like a particular one.

To be able to efficiently and sustainably engage with an audience you must first totally understand who they are and what they need help with.

Maurice Wheeler, TEDx Transmedia 2012, Rome. 

Fun and quirky facts about our TEDx Transmedia 2012 speakers

A collation of fun and quirky facts about our TEDx Transmedia 2012 speakers so you can get to know them a bit better. Enjoy! 


SPEAKER FACT 1: Producer of ideas, Saku Tuominen, won a silver medal in the Old Timers (35+) World Championships in Ice Hockey. But not only is he an elite sportsman, he also has some enviable culinary skills and produces his own Olive Oil.


SPEAKER FACT 2: Peter Espersen, Online Community Lead for LEGO, is a huge heavy metal music fan, which might just account for the long metalhead hair style? He was once at a Rollins Band punk concert when the lead singer dived into the crowd and began biting the leg of the guy he was stood next to. Peter only noticed when the man started screaming.


SPEAKER FACT 3: Josh Shore, filmmaker, transmedia producer and founder of the Guerrilla News Network, practises meditation whilst scuba diving (!) and is a big fan of Minimal Techno… 


SPEAKER FACT 4: Games writer Rhianna Pratchett has just launched Narrativia - a new film, TV and digital production company. The company is a partnership with her fantasy author father, Terry Pratchett, and collaborators Rob Wilkins and Rod Brown. First projects are the adaption of Good Omens by Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman and an adaption of The Watch, also by Terry Pratchett.


SPEAKER FACT 5: Author Alison Norrington left business cards for her character inside shoes in shoe shops to help attract an audience for her chick lit transmedia story Staying Single.


SPEAKER FACT 6: Robert Tercek, one of the world’s most prolific creators of interactive content, has had some really exciting work in his life. We are very enamoured by the fact he got to work on the visual design for the Rolling Stones Steel Wheels tour early on in his career. Wonder if he’ll have any inside gossip on the rock and roll worlds of Mick, Keith, Ronnie and Charlie?


SPEAKER FACT 7: Ana Serrano, founding Director of the Canadian Film Centre Media Lab, has an unusual hobby: she sings in operatic style and often to her son Néo. 


SPEAKER FACT 8: Philosopher for children, Øyvind Olsholt, is a pianist and currently learning Swan Lake to play for his young daughter while she practises her ballet dancing.


SPEAKER FACT 9: Maurice Wheeler, of the Little Big Partnership, gives a funny talk on goal setting and measurement inspired by the fact he lost nearly half his body weight in just over a year, going from a massive XXXL (20st 10lb) to a slight and lithe M (around 11st)! You can check out his talk ‘Using Measurement To Motivate’ here:


SPEAKER FACT 10: Derrick de Kerckhove, world-leading thinker on technology and mass media, has a fascination with the alphabet and once co-edited a book which scientifically assesses the impact of the Western alphabet on the physiology and psychology of human cognition. 


SPEAKER FACT 11: Poonacha Machaiah, CEO at the Qyuki social network for creativity, rides his motorcycles as a means to clear his mind. He regularly braves Bangalore’s crazy traffic, on his classic 1950s-style 500cc Royal Enfield or Yamaha R1, en route to work. He’s explored most of south India on a bike and plans to take a long journey into the Himalayas next year. 


SPEAKER FACT 12: Social Designer Andrew Shea has a wandering spirit and has been on many travelling adventures around the world. Some of his most memorable include: hitchhiking from Mexico to Memphis, and hanging out with a Bushman, in the highlands of Papua New Guinea, who was wearing the same Michael Jordan T-shirt Andrew owned as a kid.


SPEAKER FACT 13: Rosalía Lloret, Chief Digital Officer at PRISA News, worked closely with the Huffington Post to bring the American brand to Spain.

Fun facts sourced and compiled by Hannah Wood. 

TEDx Transmedia 2012: A taste of what the speakers will say…

With a month to go before TEDx Transmedia 2012 opens in Rome we can reveal more detail about our exciting programme of speakers and the ideas and vision they are bringing to the event. 

The theme is WEkids: Dreamers, Geeks, Mindshifters and through it we seek to awaken the free spirit and courage of the inner child. We want to have fun and inspire you to create great media of the future!

The speakers are divided into Dreamer, Geek and Mindshifter session and each bring a unique energy to this special TEDx conference on September 28. 


Alison Norrington: Storyworlds Inventor

Alison, a novelist and transmedia strategist, will open the event and highlight the narrative power of non-linear stories through her personal experiences and those of her colleagues in the industry, from Hollywood to publishing. She’ll demonstrate how you build a robust Transmedia IP.

Poonacha Machaiah: Spiritual Technologist 

Poonacha, CEO of Qyuki, will focus on the need of the hour to have “purposeful technology” that can inspire generations to make positive changes in their communities.

Øyvind Olsholt: Kids’ Philosopher

Øyvind, a Norwegian children’s philosopher, will argue for philosophy as “evocative entertainment” and a focus on, not what “turns him on” in a physical or psychological sense but what challenges his intellect.

Rosalía Lloret: Multifaceted Journalist

Rosalía, the Chief Digital Officer for PRISA News, will explore how, when a new media is born and becomes successful, media gurus usually forecast either the deterioration of the human being and society because of the new media, or – if they like the new thing – the immediate death of any previous media industry. She’ll claim they’re wrong.


Maurice Wheeler: Youth Scholar

Maurice, with his 15 years of experience working with industry giants like Disney, Microsoft, Nintendo, Nichelodeon, Universal and Procter & Gamble, will analyze the different stages of child development, focusing in particular on the difficult generation tween (no longer a child and not yet a adolescent) and showing how difficult it is to communicate and create engaging content and success for this specific audience.

Ana Serrano: Experience Mastermind

Ana Serrano, Canadian director of the Media Lab at the Canadian Film Centre, will reveal how being a geek, a dreamer and charismatic futurist may contribute to the development of collaborative environments, useful for the creative transformation of our ecosystem.

Andrew Shea: Social Designer

Andrew, writer, designer and educator, will demonstrate how design and graphics can be used to disrupt our habits and make us more socially responsible.

Rhianna Pratchett: Narrative Paramedic

Rhianna, one of the queens of writing for games, will discuss how the word writer is quickly becoming an archaic term almost detrimental to the writers themselves, who should carve out a new role in the video game industry. 

Peter Espersen: Play Leader

Peter, Online Community Leader 13 + LEGO Group, will present case histories on how Lego failed to attract fans adults, as well as how it’s creating and managing communities online, using all the resources of social media. 


Saku Tuominen: Stargazing Idealist 

Saku, a Finnish TV producer who has won more than 30 awards, will seek to understand the meaning of life through dreams. Despite “hating” the term transmedia, he’ll explore how passion becomes a bold idea and then how to work hard to make a passion happen.

Josh Shore: Catalyst Filmmaker

Josh, a filmmaker, television producer and a catalyst of socially transformative communities, will ask a series of challenging questions about transmedia products and how to make them indispensable.

Derrick de Kerckhove: Digital Visionary

Derrick, who worked closely with Marshall McLuhan and is currently Professor of the Department of French at the University of Toronto and the Department of Sociology at the University Federico II of Naples, will show that technology not only intervenes in our social relations, but also in our nervous systems, creating new connections between body and machine that will result in new responsibilities.

Robert Tercek: Creative Activist

Robert, one of the world’s most prolific creators of interactive content, will argue that we are waking up from a “60-year trance” where we have outsourced our storytelling and become “wasted” by consumption. He’ll show how participatory media has given back the power to tell stories and answer some of the world’s urgent questions. 

Find out more about the speakers and register for the event at

'Free thinking kids hold key to instigating change.' Quickfire Q&A with kids' marketing specialist and TEDx Transmedia 2012 speaker Maurice Wheeler

If you’re writing stories or inventing new products and your target audiences are kids and teens then TEDx Transmedia 2012 speaker Maurice Wheeler is a man you want to listen to.


After years of experience engaging teens, kids and families in digital products and online - for companies like Xbox, Disney and Microsoft - Maurice shares some of his expertise in this quickfire Q&A, ahead of the event in Rome on September 28th.

Maurice, partner at specialist consulting firm the Little Big Partnership, claims child-like thinking holds the key to instigating change and gives some invaluable tips on digital marketing, taking apart some social media myths along the way.

Hi Maurice, the theme of this year’s TEDx Transmedia, WEKids, is about harnessing child-like wonder and courage to make media that has a social impact. What do you see as the potential of that approach? 

Anything that uses a child’s innate desire to explore and experiment is not only highly effective, it is highly rewarding.  Children have a massive capacity to instigate change as they are not restricted by what society deems to be achievable.  Where we can harness their positivity, passion and single-minded sense of purpose, we will not only succeed but potentially exceed what we, their cynical-minded older counterparts, have being trying to do for decades.

The subheading is Dreamers, Geeks, Mindshifters; which do you most identify with and why?

Mindshifters, as ultimately that is the core of my job - changing people’s minds about things.

What did you want to be as a kid? What were your dreams and aspirations?

I am still a kid and still have dreams and aspirations, they are as strong today as they were back then.  So from my earliest dream to my latest… First, I wanted to be a vet, then a conservationist, then an actor, then a special effects guy in Hollywood, then an advertising exec, then a digital media business owner, then a chili restaurant owner, and most recently a speaker at TEDx… 

How did you get involved in digital marketing?

I was always fascinated with advertising as a kid. I grew up when the best things on TV were the ads not the actual TV shows, so I knew I always wanted to be in that creative arena.  I did a degree in photography and at the time the world wide web was really just beginning to kick off and I became very interested in how companies would use this new medium as a tool for advertising.  I applied for loads of jobs in traditional advertising agencies but no one wanted to give me a job. They all kept saying: “you should talk to our digital team,” so I gave in and spoke to the digital team at Leo Burnett and that is where my career in digital marketing started.

How do you go about engaging kids, teens, adults and families in online content?

For a more complete and rounded answer you will need to check out my talk!  However, in a nutshell, marketing is not about pushing a message at people it is about understanding who your audience are, and what they need help with.  Then, if your product or service can help them, it is about letting them know how, and where they can get it. This is true for engaging audiences in online content, you need to fully understand your audiences’ needs and desires and then answer those needs with your content.

Your work involves a lot of consideration of play, what do you think is the role of playing in life? 

Life is one big play time, it is what allows us to explore, it is what makes us create a new set of rules and try them on for size.  Without play there would be no new discoveries, without play you would not know what you are truly capable of, and without play life would be really, really boring!

What are some of the myths of social media and online community management?

The biggest myth is that it is a cheap and easy way of launching a new product.  Social media and online communities help sustain loyalty and even help maximise advocacy but they really struggle at reaching a big audience quickly, and they are far from cheap and easy. The most successful campaigns I have worked on have not been cheap and were the most complex projects I have ever seen.

What’s the secret to effective online and social media management and brand building? 

Know your audience, really get under their skin, totally understand everything about them, meet them, play with them, immerse yourself in their world.  Then understand what it is you want to change about them, do you want them to just know about your product, do you want them to buy more of your product or tell their friends to buy more?  With these two bits of key information the rest should be easy (well easier…)

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Latest News: TEDxTransmedia 2012 Speakers with a Difference


TEDxTransmedia 2012 is not your average conference about media. Nor is its focus solely on non-linear storytelling and transmedia.

This is a conference with that TED magic that asks speakers to tell personal stories in creative talks that will inspire you to think about future media - and the road to it - in new and exciting ways. 

That’s why we bring you speakers from a range of different professions, walks of life and countries. Some have no obvious connection to transmedia, but all have ideas and visions worth spreading. 

If you’re wondering what TED and TEDx are then visit the About section of our official website for the lowdown. 

The awesome Dreamers, Geeks and Mindshifters we have selected for TEDxTransmedia 2012 are (you have to click Read More to find out….:)

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