Posted by Barry Silverstein on December 21, 2009 11:08 AM
It's a changing world in the toy business. Kids are focusing more of their attention on visual pursuits -- not just television and movies, but increasingly, video games and online entertainment. That means toy makers are scrambling to reinvent their brands and keep up with the times.
Hasbro, the second largest US toy maker behind Mattel, is making a big Hollywood push to remain competitive. "We actually reorganized the company to focus on our brand. Now we've become more consumer-centric," says Brian Goldner, Hasbro CEO, in an interview with The Wall Street Journal.
Goldner has pushed Hasbro into the entertainment business, opening an office in LA and hiring executives with movie experience. He has struck movie deals for Hasbro toys and board games, such as Candy Land, GI Joe, Monopoly, and the successful Transformers franchise. Transformer movie tie-ins alone are responsible for more than $1 billion of revenue since 2007.
Hasbro sees its future more as a "brand developer" than a toy maker. Its recent joint venture with cable television's Discovery Channel will create family programming for 6- to 12-year olds and their parents, featuring everything from Hasbro's Trivial Pursuit to My Little Pony characters and Tonka toys. Hasbro is also continuing its international expansion in places like Brazil, China, Poland, and Russia "because that's where the future markets are," says Goldner.
The relationship between toys and the entertainment world is, of course, nothing new -- and it works both ways. Companies like Disney and Nickelodeon develop television series and movies with characters that are then converted into toy concepts. Merchandising characters via other product lines, such as kids' clothing, furniture, foods, and of course, video games, extends the value well beyond the toy market.