local branding

Mattel Localizes Barbie for Education-Focused China Market

Posted by Mark J. Miller on November 8, 2013 06:38 PM

Barbie apparently wasn't much of a success in China when the famous doll's focus was all manicures, makeup and party dresses. The company's six-story store in Shanghai closed its doors in 2011, and since, Mattel has been hard at work creating a Barbie more suitable for the Asian culture—one focused instead on education. 

"Joy and learning are like oil and water in China," said Peter Broegger, Mattel's Asia Pacific senior vice president, in an interview with the Wall Street Journal. So Mattel is trying to emphasize the learning part of Barbie’s life, releasing such dolls as Violin Barbie, while simultaneously trying to get the government to encourage more play from the children of its nation. "If they allow for more play, half of our marketing is done," Broegger told the Journal. Violin Barbie may be completely disproportionate in her body but she apparently can play a mean Tchaikovsky.Continue reading...

holidaze

Toy Brands Jump Start Holiday Promos to Get Ahead of Sluggish Spending

Posted by Dale Buss on October 22, 2013 06:39 PM

It's D-Days—Decision Days—for many American parents as they seek to get their holiday shopping done for their kids before the crunch of school programs, seasonal festivities and general mayhem ensues.

And sure enough, Fisher-Price, Toys R Us, Amazon and other brands are showing up with timely messages about how eager they are to help. They're all the more interested to make hay early in the season because the forecast for Christmas spending this year is cloudy at best.

Fisher-Price this season is targeting Millennial moms of kids up to ages five years old and, to accommodate the greater digital sensibilities of this generation, the Mattel-owned brand has boosted its digital-media spend by 50 percent.

"We know we need to reach her in this digital space," Lisa McKnight, Mattel's senior vice president of marketing for North America, told Advertising Age. "They want to make informed decisions when they make their purchases."Continue reading...

games people play

Monopoly Empire is a Future CEO's Dream—and a Whole Lot of Marketing

Posted by Mark J. Miller on October 11, 2013 03:49 PM

Hasbro’s Monopoly board game has partnered with dozens of cities and organizations over the years to create unique editions of the board game. From the Boy Scouts of America and American Idol to the Boston Red Sox and Teaneck Township, New Jersey, the Monopoly brand has gone out of its way to find large, passionate niche audiences that might be interested in throwing around a little fake money.

But the game's latest edition, Monopoly Empire, puts millions of dollars worth of buying power in the hands of players in the form of major brands, including Coca-Cola, McDonald's and Chevrolet. Bearing the tagline "Own the world's top brands," it features 22 brands in total, and even adjusts the game's purpose to fit the big-brand model. Instead of racking up real estate on Park Place, players instead work on covering their Times Square-like billboards with brand logos. The first to do so wins.Continue reading...

viral buzz

Silly Bandz Who? The Latest Rubber Bracelet Craze is Courtesy of Rainbow Loom

Posted by Mark J. Miller on September 12, 2013 05:52 PM

Malaysian immigrant Cheong Choon Ng spent his days as a crash-test engineer for Nissan in Michigan, but, for three years, his nights and weekends were spent perfecting a toy that made it easier for his two young daughters to create bracelets out of rubber bands. Little did he know, he had a hit on his hands of Silly Bandz proportion. 

Ng's Rainbow Loom hit the market with a tutorial video that his daughters made, and soon, his invention outgrew his living room operations. More than a million of the kits have sold since. But where there is success, there are followers, particularly, as the Wall Street Journal points out, in today’s world of 3-D printing, online marketing and speedy manufacturing.Continue reading...

brands under fire

Fisher-Price Under Fire for Making False Claims About Educational Apps

Posted by Mark J. Miller on August 8, 2013 01:43 PM

After new parents nail down the basics of changing daipers and hourly feedings, most are concerned with building their new bundle of joy's cognitive level. With a more than ample amount of products, including videos, books and apps available to choose from, a parent's investment in education can start pretty early. However, not every product and method out there lives up to its claims, which is where Fisher-Price is finding itself these days. 

The longtime toymaker and others like them have come under fire by advocacy group Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood, which has said that the companies involved have all produced mobile apps that claim to be able to help kids get smarter—but actually can’t. The Washington Times reports that the group has filed a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission about the practice.Continue reading...

license to thrill

Hasbro Extends Licensing Agreement with Booming Angry Birds Franchise

Posted by Mark J. Miller on June 18, 2013 07:05 PM

Because there isn't already enough Angry Birds-themed merchandise in the world, Hasbro and Rovio's Angry Birds have signed a new expanded licensing agreement that will find new Birds gear hitting the market before year’s end.

Since the original Angry Birds mobile game launched in 2009, more than 12 million copies have been sold through Apple’s app store alone. That has led to Angry Birds-branded T-shirts, pillowcases, cake toppers, pet toys, skateboards, and, of course, Duck tape.

Rovio, the creator of the brand, began distributing a weekly animated cartoon series, Angry Birds Toons, in March and a full-length animated Angry Birds movie is expected to hit screens in the summer of 2016, according to a release.Continue reading...

china

Lego's Asian Building Block

Posted by Abe Sauer on March 19, 2013 11:17 AM

The "clear leader in a declining toy industry," Lego has seemingly done the impossible. Despite the trademark on its one trick expiring, the brand has not only refused to die, but become the aforementioned leader in a slumping industry. If it doesn't already, Lego will have its own chapter in business school textbooks of the future.

Now, the brand is once again being a maverick by going to China—not for the cheap labor but to dominate the market. It's a block in the eye of the Chinese brand that's been knocking it off for years.Continue reading...

kiddie brands

Lego the Clear Leader in a Declining Toy Industry

Posted by Sheila Shayon on February 22, 2013 04:04 PM

Lego—Europe’s biggest toymaker and the world's third largest—is having an impressive year thanks in large part to a new building block set for girls.

“Lego Friends” is the company’s sixth effort to target girls and their “most significant” new product in a decade according to CEO Joergen Vig Knudstorp. “We were able to develop and launch products that children all over the world have put at the top of their wish lists in 2012.” “Lego Friends” was the company’s fourth-best selling product line in 2012, after “Lego City” sets, “Lego Star Wars” and “Lego Ninjago.”

Remarkably niche, Lego is singular in pushing through the widespread malaise affecting the toy industry, reporting an impressive 25 percent increase in revenue in 2012, topping No. 1 Mattel's sales growth. The Denmark-based company, which is still owned by the founding Kirk Kristiansen family, boosted their market share to 8.6 percent overall, with 85 percent of the U.S. building-block market—their best customers—under their belt. Continue reading...

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