How’d You Get to Sesame Street (in that outfit) Katy Perry?

The children’s television show Sesame Street understands the importance of the relationship with their viewers’ parents. Katy Perry visited the show and filmed a re-worked version of her hit “Hot and Cold.” She chose to wear an outfit that showed more skin than parents seem to think is appropriate, even though it was made like a figure skater’s costume with flesh-colored mesh up to the neck.

This is how Sesame Street responded:  “In light of the feedback we’ve received on the Katy Perry music video which was released on You Tube only, we have decided we will not air the segment on the television broadcast of Sesame Street, which is aimed at preschoolers. Katy Perry fans will still be able to view the video on You Tube.”

This was a great approach. The show fixed the relationship with an important part of their target audience while still giving viewers, who may have tuned in to see Perry, a way to watch the segment. Perry didn’t seem to be too upset with the show.  When the news broke she tweeted, “Wow, looks like my play date with Elmo has been cut short!”

“If you still wanna play see it at Tag you’re it, Elmo!” The YouTube video already has nearly a million hits.

Sesame Street, probably without trying, created something great. The show gained a significant amount of publicity while still doing the right thing to maintain their core viewership. Many of the articles about the Katy Perry segment being pulled mentioned many of the other celebrities who were visiting Sesame Street this season. People flocking to see the video of the segment that was pulled are likely to check out other Sesame Street videos on YouTube featuring other celebrities. Sesame Street’s quick response to the video and decision-making in regards to preschool parents helped keep this situation nothing more than a misstep on the producer’s part.

If Katy Perry doesn’t have hurt feelings it could mean another opportunity for her to visit Sesame Street, hopefully covering more of her cleavage this time.

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10 Responses to How’d You Get to Sesame Street (in that outfit) Katy Perry?

  1. cbaumgar says:

    This is so interesting because I am a HUGE Katy Perry fan and thought this would be a great topic for a post!

    I completely agree with you that Sesame Street had an excellent response to the criticism and concern of the video. They took the public into consideration by not airing it on the medium they would use but also defended Katy Perry fans and those who wanted to see it. They did not place blame on anyone or regret their decision of how the video looked.

    Katy Perry’s style and image are about sexual innuendos and fascinations. Everyone who knows who Katy Perry is knows this fact. So is it really a shock that she didn’t change her image for this video? At least she wasn’t in just a bra like in her newest “Teenage Dream” video. I think it was a good idea for her to keep retain her image, although she probably could have made her top a little less revealing.

    Overall, I agree with you that Sesame Street found the best solution when dealing with this concern. They remained loyal to their primary audience while still remaining accountable to their secondary audience. Great job, Sesame Street!

  2. clangefe says:

    I agree. I definitely think Sesame Street handled the situation very well. While I don’t necessarily understand why they tapped Katy Perry to be on the program in the first place or why she was on the show in a not so kid-friendly outfit, the fact that they are able to satisfy both Perry’s and their audience was great.

    I like that Sesame Street didn’t try to hide the segment and allowed it to be online where Perry’s audience could still view it. Parents were probably right to be a little concerned because, let’s face it, preschoolers aren’t really Perry’s target audience.

    It also drew more attention to Perry and her new album. A coincidence? Maybe. Or maybe she just wanted a chance to hang out with Elmo. In either case, it accomplished both. Well done, Sesame Street PR, indeed.

  3. bmalex says:

    Awesome post. I heard about this story on Twitter last week and forgot to follow up on it, so I’m glad it showed up here.

    The conclusion to this story does really seem like a win-win for both Katy Perry and Sesame Street. Perry was able to spin it and make light of a potential snub by Elmo and his friends. Sesame Street was able to recognize the wants of their consumers (aka they don’t want their kids seeing a pop star’s cleavage). And yet, people who still want to see the parody can easily log on to YouTube. I just opened it on Sunday morning for the first time, and more than 3.1 million viewers have seen it.

    Thanks for the post!

  4. jhickam says:

    I was also impressed with Sesame Street’s response because it showed they really were paying attention and listening to their online communities. Most of the negative comments about Katy Perry’s outfit weren’t sent directly to Sesame Street, instead they were posted as comments on the YouTube video. If Sesame Street hadn’t been on top of their issues management, they probably wouldn’t have been monitoring those comments. But because they were, they caught wind of negative reaction quickly and made a decision not to air the episode.

    Also, when was the last time you heard a big story about Sesame Street? I agree with the post that this gave Sesame Street a lot of publicity. And even though there were some criticisms, the viewership and national interest in the video more than made up for it. Sesame Street handled the situation well enough that their quick reaction and careful attention to their audience feedback paid off and translated into interest in the show.

  5. srmccab1 says:

    I agree, this is a great post! I read about this on numerous news sites and didn’t even consider it for this week’s blog post, but I think you raised some really good points about how well they handled the PR.

    After reading your post I went online to look at some others. I was under the impression that they took it off YouTube too, but it doesn’t look like that was true. Anyway, I got caught on a blog that was arguing the only reason Sesame Street allowed the video to stay on YouTube was to create some buzz about the show, I mean, really, how often are any of us really talking about Sesame Street? But the blog raised some interesting points including that after the video was posted on YouTube, the site’s search box featured a tiny picture of Elmo. It’s interesting to wonder if it was just another PR stunt or an honest compromise by Sesame Street to make both target audiences happy. I guess we’ll never really know.

  6. hdfulton says:

    Very interesting!

    I am surprised Sesame Street considered featuring Katy Perry in the first place, but I think it’s great that they issued a quick response and kept the feelings of their target audience in mind.

    Hopefully, they haven’t received too much backlash from parents due to the video’s accessibility. I think it was a fine move on their part. (They still generated publicity while maintaining their PR rep.)

  7. jweishar says:

    With this situation, I do wonder if it was simply a PR stunt. Either way, I think it was handled gracefully on Sesame Street‘s and Katy Perry’s part. I feel like most celebrities would have complained on their Twitter pages that they didn’t see anything wrong with the show, but I think Katy Perry was respectful to viewers’ wishes while acknowledging what happened.

    I think that Sesame Street handled it well because they removed the segment from their show while still leaving it available to older audiences. There didn’t seem to be much fuss involved, yet the show still got amazing publicity out of it.

  8. rlbarber says:

    @hdfulton: I wouldn’t be as concerned about the video’s accesibility. As technologically advanced as kids are these days, their target audience probably isn’t capable of navigating to Youtube. So far I haven’t seen or heard of any negative response to the video being placed online.

    Also, this weekend Katy Perry did a spoof of the situation on Saturday Night Live. ( which brought additional publicity to the video clip. The official clip of the Sesame Street skit on Youtube now has over 3.5 million views. I honestly think if Perry didn’t have such a good sense of humor and was willing to run with this it would not have been as smooth or successful from a PR standpoint. I would be interested to hear whether Sesame Street approved her making fun of the issue on SNL. Either way, it’s still creating a huge amount of publicity for both Perry (and her new album–good point @clangefe) and Sesame Street.

  9. shuscher says:

    I agree with the majority on this one, I definitely think that Sesame Street handled the incident appropriately. Not only did they issue a speedy response, but they listened to their consumers. Since parents control what their children watch, it’s vital that they tend to that audience.

    In my personal opinion, I don’t think the video is inappropriate. I’m sure children see much worse nowadays, and I don’t think that cleavage will have any negative effects on them. However, I’m not involved in the demographic that the show is trying to reach. I think in public relations, sometimes you have to put aside your personal feelings and do what’s best for the client.

    For instance, in my business journalism class we were asked if we would represent a tobacco company, even if we don’t approve. Even though I don’t like tobacco, I would probably put my feelings aside and represent them if that was what was best for my career at the time.

    Would you do the same?

  10. slarsonm says:

    I also saw this light up Twitter when the story broke and forgot to follow up on it!

    I agree that Sesame Street did a great job quelling the situation before it turned into something negative for the kids show. Although Katy Perry has a bit of a risque reputation anyway, I am surprised they asked her to do something on Sesame Street.

    By keeping the segment on YouTube, they acknowledge that while it might not be completely appropriate for their target audience, fans can still appreciate it if they want to.

    The segment controversy also had interesting timing. Sept. 27th marked the 41st anniversary of Sesame Street. According to a PBS Blog, the Katy Perry segment wasn’t supposed to air until Dec. 30. (

    The blog also notes that PBS doesn’t view the content of Sesame Street before airing. Because of the delayed air date, I think the public relations team leaked the video with the music superstar early to generate publicity for their 41st season.

    Good thing Katy Perry has such a good sense of humor! It was indeed a win-win for both parties, and maybe when the kids grow up, they can appreciate the Elmo and Katy Perry duo.

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