Keeping the Momentum Going After Toy Fair

Final post in a six-part series of posts on preparing for the annual trade event

By Julie Livingston, Director, business development and accounts, Child’s Play Communications, New York City

With Toy Fair officially over, it is time to take a quick breath and capitalize on the media interest your company or brand received during those intense four days. You may return to a desk piled high and an overwhelming number of emails to answer, but don’t lose the momentum you’ve created. Many Toy Fair exhibitors come back from the show re-energized about their own businesses, so now is a good time to move fast. If you wait more than two weeks after Toy Fair to start following up on media leads, there’s a good chance you’ll never do it. Following are tips on the most effective ways to keep the momentum going after the show:

1.     Re-read Toy Fair notes and identify next steps: Transcribe your Toy Fair meeting notes as soon as possible while the show experience is still fresh in your mind. Ask other colleagues to review and “weigh in” from their perspective. With input from everyone who worked the booth, keep a record of which media outlets stopped by and who worked with them. Importantly, note any issues or problems. Did a reporter come early or late to an appointment, finding that there was no one available to work with them? How was this handled? Were bloggers treated with respect? How were business cards collected? How could these things be handled better in the future?

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European Toy Fairs 2012 Round Up

By Steve Reece, a brand management consultant in the toys and games industry.

Apparently we are in the middle of an ever-worsening economic climate in Europe, a eurozone crisis, and a downward spiral of economic recession. I didn’t get any impression of that from this year’s European toy fairs. In fact, it almost seemed the opposite! Rarely have I been to toy fairs with so much news, innovation, and newsworthy product launches.

For me, the season started with the UK show. In its third year back at London’s Olympia Exhibition Centre, this show was buzzing, with a packed out hall and mezzanine, plentiful foot traffic, and a generally vibrant atmosphere.

Then onto Nuremburg, where the temperature dropped as low as -17 C / 1 Fahrenheit. Despite the inhospitable weather, the show itself seemed as vibrant as ever. While the attendance figures were reportedly down, international visitors hit record levels, and it was notable that the majority of top-level industry people I expected to be there were indeed present.

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Dark Horse Deluxe Offers a Unique Take on the Good Luck Trolls

The Good Luck Troll was originally created in 1959 by Danish fisherman and woodcutter Thomas Dam. At various times since the early 1960s, Trolls have been a top-selling toy, building a seldom-achieved brand equity. Dam Things, which holds all rights to the works of Thomas Dam, is in the process of launching a complete slate of merchandise activities and products for the Good Luck Trolls. Dark Horse Comics has been granted the license for a collectibles program. The line will consist of 15 different trolls, some of which are rare, sold in mystery box assortments.

Dark Horse felt the Good Luck Troll would be a natural fit in the designer vinyl and specialty retail arena, and has created Trolls with unique variations of color and surface treatments. The product development was closely supervised by Dam Things and its brand manager Dannie Festa of Festa Entertainment, including a trip from Denmark to the West Coast prototyping facility to assess and approve the works in progress.

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What Should Be in Your Toy Fair Media Tool Kit?

Second in a series of posts on preparing for the annual trade event


by Julie Livingston, director, business development and accounts, Child’s Play Communications, New York City

As the adage goes, “information is power,” and that is exactly why the nuggets of facts, photos, video and other details contained in your Toy Fair media kit can directly impact the depth and breadth of coverage you get during the show. Start planning out your content by thinking through the writer’s “5 W’s”—the Who, What, Where, When, and Why—as it relates to your product. Ask for input from colleagues in the product development, sales, and marketing areas, as their perspective can provide tremendous insight, and descriptive language to tell the story. In my experience, this process can be time consuming; be prepared for multiple rounds of edits so that the end product is one that will draw attention and interest.

From seeing literally hundreds of press materials in my years in the children’s entertainment business and PR, the following elements when executed well contribute to a successful press kit:

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Countdown to Toy Fair: Identifying Your Communications Objectives

First in a series of posts on preparing for the annual trade event


By Julie Livingston, director, business development and accounts, Child’s Play Communications, New York City

Toy Fair is a month away, and for many toy and youth entertainment companies, the annual event is an important media platform that can help drive brand awareness and buzz for hot items throughout the year. With approximately one thousand media representatives from around the world in attendance, how will your company or brand garner the attention it deserves? Following are tips and information collected during the six years I served overseeing public relations for the Toy Industry Association and Toy Fair, as well as serving toy and youth entertainment industry clients as a PR professional.

1.     Prioritize your communications goals and objectives. For example, is it a new product line review you want the media to see? Or, do you have a hot item you want to hype to help drive holiday orders?  Do you have an announcement about a licensing agreement or strategic partnership? Identifying your primary goals and objectives will provide a framework for all related activities, including any responsibilities that you want other communications personnel or a public relations agency to handle.

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Top Toy Trends This Holiday Season, According to Target

This holiday season there will be nearly 7,000 toys featured in Target stores and on Target.com. Stephanie Lucy, vice president of merchandising at Target, shares what she thinks will be the five key toy trends this season and the hot toys that match them.

Interactivity

“One of the key items we selected is Fijit Friends. You look at Fijit and the ability to put it in dance mode, and the voice-recognition and built-in responses. Also, Let’s Rock Elmo is interactive for a much younger child, but we believe interactivity is important.”

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From Factory to Shelf: An Inside Look at Target’s Holiday Toy Merchandising Strategies

Walking into the toy section of a store like Target during the holiday season can be overwhelming for shoppers, who are faced with toy aisle upon toy aisle of great products to choose from. Thousands of additional products can be found online. Those that make it onto store shelves during the season are often thought of as the crème de la crème, and being chosen for Target’s shelves can bring tremendous success to a toy manufacturer.

Stephanie Lucy, Target’s vice president of merchandising, chats with Elizabeth A. Reid of The Toy Book to talk about holiday merchandising strategies, how it makes its toy selections, and what Target is doing to become a top destination for holiday shopping.

The Toy Book: Let’s paint a picture of how great toys get to Target. How far in advance do you plan for each holiday season?

Stephanie Lucy: We actually start looking for content for the holiday season in September or October the year before. For example, we are going to market right now to look for products for next holiday season.

TB: So, how do you pick the toys? When you are at market, what do you look for?

SL: First of all, it starts with us evaluating what is currently working at Target—what’s selling and what’s not—and ensuring that we understand what the guest is interested in. Beyond that, it really is strong partnerships with our vendors. We do business with the largest toy manufacturers around the world. So, it’s sitting down with them and understanding what they believe the hottest toys are going to be, and what they believe content should look like for the year to come.

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Top Trumps Championship Announces Winner

Shawal Malik poses with contest goodies.

On September 1 at 10 a.m., 40 VIP guests and onlookers gathered to watch the six semi-finalists compete for the grand prize in the Top Trumps Championship. The championship was held on the 67th floor of The Top of The Rock Observation Deck in New York City.

This year’s winner, 11-year-old Shawal Malik, took home the prize package (valued at over $750), which included admission to the Top of The Rock Observation Deck for his entire class, 10 passes to The Bronx Zoo, Moshi Monster plush and collectibles, various Top Trumps games, and the Top Trumps Championship Trophy.

The Top Trumps competition was part of a six-week program in conjunction with the Queens and Brooklyn Public Library’s Summer Reading Program, held from July 12 to August 21. To qualify, children had to visit a participating branch of a Queens or Brooklyn Public Library to play rounds of Top Trumps. Participants were given scorecards and each time they won a round, the librarian would reward the player with a sticker on his or her scorecard. For every five games won, the child earned a prize, and if the child won 15 games by August 21 he or she won the right to enter the online tournament. The children then competed online to earn a spot as semi-finalists on the leader board.

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New Study Says Elmo Helps Toddlers’ Early Learning Skills

New research shows that children’s character Elmo is more effective in helping toddlers learn basic skills than if the toddlers were taught by unrecognizable faces.

Researchers from the Children’s Digital Media Center at Georgetown University conducted an experiment using three groups of 21-month-old toddlers. The first group watched a video of an Elmo puppet placing nesting cups inside one another, the second group saw the same task being performed by an unknown character puppet with the same Elmo-like voice, and the third group did not watch a video.

When applying what they had learned to their own nesting cups, the first group was able to complete the task significantly better than both the second and third groups. The first group was also more likely to smile and say the character’s name.

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Vote for Your Favorite Plush Team Artist Entry

The Etsy Plush Street Team, a group of plush toy artists, is hosting a friendly competition to create a popular plush design fitting the theme: “Under The Big Top: A Circus Of Misfits!” Each Plush Street artist was invited to submit circus-themed entries under two categories, Circus Animal Tricks and Circus People. All of the designs have been posted, and the polls are open until Monday, June 27. The grand-prize winner will receive a signed copy of Handmade Nation: The Rise of DIY, Art, Craft and Design by Faythe Levine and Cortney Heimert.

View the entries and cast your own vote here.