Posted by Mark J. Miller on January 2, 2013 11:11 AM
Thomas the Tank Engine has been steaming along on the fictional island of Sodor since 1945, but he is finally catching up to the times. Still, the news that Mattel is ready to revamp the little British engine that could for new markets has some parents of Thomas-obsessed kids worried.
Thomas started out as the creation of British clergyman Rev. Wilbert Audry, whose goal was to come up with a story to entertain his measles-ridden son. Today, Thomas is a global kids powerhosue brand, from toys and licensed goods that expand on his popular TV series.
The Thomas brand brings in about $1 billion in retail sales annually and was a big part of the reason Mattel shelled out $680 million last year for the engine’s former owner, HIT Entertainment, which also parted ways with such beloved kid characters as Barney, Angelina Ballerina, and Bob the Builder as part of the deal.
Finally, Mattel is ready to boost the Thomas brand.Continue reading...
Posted by Mark J. Miller on December 19, 2012 01:07 PM
There’s one in Denmark, and there’s one in England. And now there will be one in Carlsbad, California: a Legoland Hotel. Don’t worry, the place won’t be built out of Legos – at least not the whole thing.
The hotel – complete with a dragon-guarded entrance -- is slated to open in early April of next year right outside the Legoland theme park and will feature “interactive Lego features, themed play areas, family pool and kid's entertainment,” according to Lego's website. The 250 rooms at California's Legoland Hotel will all have a theme: Pirate, Kingdom, or Adventure.
Since the hotel is aimed at housing families who are in town to visit the Legoland theme park (and not to those harboring pirate fantasies of one sort or another), each room has two sleeping areas, one with a queen-sized bed and the other with sleeping spaces for up to three kids. After all, it's hard to beat a brand extension you can sleep in.
No wonder Lego is rolling in dough right now.Continue reading...
what girls want
Posted by Mark J. Miller on December 18, 2012 10:30 AM
What do girls want? For one big sister this holiday season, the right for her brother to have the same toys in a non-stereotypical design. Almost 45,000 signatures and a slew of international headlines later, McKenna Pope, the 13-year-old who started the online petition at Change.org to convince Hasbro to consider boys in their marketing and design scope for the Easy-Bake Oven, has scored a big win for gender equality.
McKenna and her family met with execs at Hasbro on Monday and came out all smiles. Execs at the Pawtucket, R.I., HQ of the toy manufacturer, as AP reports, were deighted to show her design prototypes for Easy-Bake ovens colored black, silver, or blue — ready for her brother and other boys eager to get Easy-Baking.
Pope’s quest had started when she wanted to get her four-year-old brother, Gavyn Boscio, an Easy-Bake Oven for Christmas. After all, he had shown a love for food prep by attempting to “cook on top of a lamp's light bulb” at their New Jersey home. Pope only found ovens in pink or purple and the boxes only featured girls in its marketing images.
So Pope went out and scored more than 40,000 signatures on a Change.org petition, the support of a slew of male celebrity chefs such as Bobby Flay, and a meeting with Hasbro, which now says it is going to unveil the new oven at the annual Toy Fair in New York this coming February. Consumers who are looking to purchase Easy-Bake ovens that aren’t pink and purple will be able to snag them next summer. Plus, the new ovens will come with a boy or two pictured on the box as well.Continue reading...
what girls want
Posted by Mark J. Miller on December 12, 2012 12:24 PM
Most of America’s top-rated restaurants are run by male chefs, yet cooking is still conventionally considered to be something that women are more interested in than men. So where do these guys come from, anyway? Where did they keep themselves out of sight all their lives before getting their Michelin stars?
Well, one young fella who likely hopes to be on that list someday isn’t hiding himself away anymore. Four-year-old Gavyn Boscio of New Jersey has been thrown into the limelight this holiday season thanks to a hue and cry raised by his sister, 13-year-old McKenna Pope.
Gavyn would like to have an Easy-Bake Oven for Christmas but he told his family that knows that “only girls” cook. So Pope is lobbying Easy-Bake’s manufacturer, Hasbro, to not market the product exclusively to girls.
The least they could do, she says on her Change.org petition that has been signed by more than 40,000 people, is to put a boy or two on the packaging and offer it in a color other than pink or purple.Continue reading...
Posted by Sheila Shayon on December 11, 2012 09:54 AM
Last year, Americans spent nearly $135 billion on gifts during the holiday season, with video games ranking most popular for kids. So this holiday season, Energy BBDO and Xi Chicago decided to remind kids the simple joys of play with the opposite of a video game: a cardboard box.
Remember Caine's Arcade, the touching video of a boy who made a cardboard arcade in his dad's used auto parts store in East Los Angeles? Cue "Mister Imagine's Toy Store," a pop-up shop selling nothing but cardboard in Chicago’s Wicker Park, to promote real play and creativity, as part of the Chicago Children’s Museum’s current “Unboxed: Adventures in Cardboard” exhibit.
As Adweek notes, “Children can select a box (a donation is requested) and then head to the art room to create their own unique creation. If kids are having trouble figuring out what to make, they can step up to an augmented reality station and see options appear on their box, ask a handy art facilitator on staff, or simply look around at the stunning artworks that make up the decor.”Continue reading...
no kidding around
Posted by Mark J. Miller on November 21, 2012 09:19 AM
In 1985, Elmo pushed aside Grover, Big Bird, Cookie Monster, and even Ernie and Bert to make his way to the front of the pack on Sesame Street. And he’s been leading the way ever since, pulling in viewers for the show and big bucks for anybody who finds a way to sell an Elmo-related product.
But now the man who brought Elmo to life, Kevin Clash, will no longer be pulling the puppet onto his arm, thanks to allegations that Clash had an inappropriate sexual relationship with a 15-year-old and possibly other young men. This came on top of allegations from another young man that have since been recanted. Whether it is true or not, damage has been done to the Elmo brand and Sesame wanted to control that as quickly as possible. Clash resigned from the show Tuesday and in what Children’s Television Workshop called “a sad day for Sesame Street.”
Elmo products, of course, have been a big staple of holiday wish lists for children for close to 30 years now and this season is no different. This year’s include the $39.99 LOL Elmo, which is a direct descendant of the Tickle Me Elmo doll that set sales records years ago, and Let’s Rock! Elmo, which sings and comes with a drum set and microphone. Hasbro, which is the main toy licensee for Sesame Street, put out a statement Tuesday that expressed confidence that Elmo will still be an important part of the show for years to come, the New York Times reports.
“People are making the separation that this is about Kevin Clash, this is not about Elmo,” said Jim Silver, editor-in-chief of Time to Play magazine, according to the Times. “The more people make the separation, the less effect on sales.” Silver says Sesame Street-related toys bring in about $75 million annually and Elmo accounts for 50 to 75 percent of that.Continue reading...
Posted by Shirley Brady on November 13, 2012 10:00 AM
McDonald's US released this holiday TV commercial today, touting its Happy Meal tie-in with Dreamwork's Rise of the Guardians animated feature, hitting theaters on Nov. 21.
Meanwhile, it's heating up down under, where McDonald's is launching its new "Do Summer" campaign with limited-time menu items in Australia and New Zealand: the Blazing Omelette McMuffin for breakfast; the Smoky BBQ Bandit, boasting "100% Aussie beef, golden onion rings and smoky BBQ sauce;" and "with a new fiery chilli-coated patty and Peri-Peri style Mayo," the new Scorcher Peri-Peri chicken sandwich. Check out those spots below.Continue reading...
Posted by Dale Buss on November 12, 2012 03:54 PM
The challenges facing Groupon are mounting as the daily deals pioneer struggles to create a viable business model. As Reuters notes, interest by consumers and merchants in its daily-deal local offerings continues to wane, and it is far from clear that the Chicago-based startup can offset the decline in the bulwark of its original business model with other services that will generate enough business to keep it afloat.
Accordingly, Groupon's market capitalization has dropped to just $1.8 billion, down 90% from nearly $13 billion when its stock went public at $20 a share a year ago in the second-biggest US IPO since Google. Key executives and salespeople continue to jump ship, while it's also coping with controversy over its accounting methods.
Even though Groupon had more than 4.3 million customers last month, and "an annual run rate of nearly $1.5 billion in global billings and nearly $500 million in revenues shortly after its one-year anniversary in September," according to a company spokesperson, the now-apparent weakness in its business model means that imitators, such as the Amazon-backed LivingSocial, are having unprecedented problems.Continue reading...