Nintendo’s Tomodachi Life Looks to Breathe New Life into Social Media Gaming

82977A 3DS package_NOA_mOn June 6, Nintendo will release Tomodachi Life on its 3DS system. The game, which is set in an apartment building on an island, lets players create Mii avatars that represent themselves, as well as their closest friends and relatives, and to watch those characters behave and interact with each other.

Players check in on the Tomodachi Life characters on a regular basis, solving problems as they arise, which range from being hungry to sadness, to issues stemming from their love life. While players cannot control the decisions of the Miis, they can influence them.

Whenever the player makes a Mii character happy—for example, through purchasing them a gift from the in-game store—the player’s on-screen happiness level increases. They also receive in-game money that can be used to purchase more items for the Miis, and these items rotate on a daily basis. [Read more...]

TOMY Launches Megabuild Junction For Kids to Show Off Cool Combos

MegabuildJunctionWith Megabuild Junction, TOMY provides a new resource for showcasing layouts, providing building instructions, and inspiring fans to explore ways to combine their Chuggington StackTrack playsets and track pieces.

At Megabuild Junction, users can find helpful suggestions and tricks courtesy of Chuggington’s toy team experts. Through photos and videos, they can also see what TOMY’s designers and other families have created, as well as share photos of their own builds, which will be posted on TOMY’s Facebook page. Users are also invited to join conversations taking place in social media.

EDITOR’S VIEWPOINT: Reaching Consumers at Home

photoConsumers want to shop local. They want to support their communities and their neighbors’ businesses. Moms and dads truly want to keep their hard-earned dollars in their hometowns whenever possible. Small Business Saturday has 3.3 million likes on Facebook. At the very least, people like the concept of supporting their local retailers.

“Sure, Jackie, easy for you to say. Show me the business.” Of course there are obstacles. If you’re not seeing the sales levels you’d like, ask yourself why. I believe one of the main reasons has to do with awareness and remaining top of mind with your community. Even if you are doing the mailings, coupon booklets, and Penny Saver ads, that may not be enough. You need to reach moms where they are spending their precious free moments of the day and, for many, that place is online, on social media.

My community has a group for local moms on Facebook (dads are welcome, but remain in the minority). It has more than 5,000 members who live in my town and actively seek advice from the group on everything from parenting to what to do with kids locally to where to eat and shop for various things. I’ve noticed that when the topic turns to toys, the first place group members recommend is Fun Stuff Toys, a local toy retailer in Seaford, N.Y. that caters to the community. If your community has a group like this, I urge you to join—not to constantly promote your shop (no one will appreciate that), but to be an active member of your community and a trusted source of information when the conversation naturally (and no doubt frequently) turns to “What toy should I buy for a child’s birthday party?” and “What should I do with my kids this Saturday?” You will remain top of mind for busy parents who may just need that frequent reminder that you are the best source for toys in your community. Once you have their support and awareness, loyalty to your store and all that you offer should come easy.

This column was published in the February issue of The Toy Book. Check back regularly for more toy industry commentary from Jackie. Views expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Toy Book as a whole. We hope that you will share your comments and feedback below. Until next time!

Moshi Monsters Village Launches on Mobile and Tablet

MoshiMonstersVillageThe world of Moshi Monsters is now available globally on iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch. Moshi Monsters Village, developed by Mind Candy in collaboration with Tag Games, lets players embark on fun-filled 3-D quests to rescue captured Moshlings and defeat naughty Glumps in mini-games. The game also features Facebook social connectivity and friend code shares, so players can interact with their friends Moshi Monsters villages and see how they compare.

Moshi Monsters Village can be downloaded for free at the App Store, although some game items can be purchased for real money. Parents or players who do not want to use this feature are able to disable in-app purchases in their device’s settings. Google Play, Android, and Kindle versions of the game will be available this month.

Toys “R” Us Introduces Lemon Smiles Challenge to Kick Off ALSF Campaign

Toys-R-Us-Logo copyToys “R” Us Inc. launched its third consecutive fundraising campaign to benefit Alex’s Lemonade Stand Foundation (ALSF), a nonprofit organization dedicated to finding a cure for childhood cancer. From June 1 to July 31, monetary donations will be collected at all Toys “R” Us and Babies “R” Us stores nationwide and online at Toysrus.com/AlexsLemonade. To kick off this year’s program, the company has introduced its Lemon Smiles Challenge, a social media campaign designed to encourage Facebook and Twitter users to spread awareness for ALSF by sharing photos of themselves, family, and friends smiling while biting into a lemon slice. Fans who would like to encourage others to do the same and grow the Lemon Smiles movement can share their smiles on the Toys“R”Us Facebook page at Facebook.com/Toysrus or tag @ToysRUs on Twitter using the #LemonSmiles hashtag.

Drawing inspiration from Alexandra “Alex” Scott, the founder of ALSF whose motto was “when life gives you lemons, make lemonade,” participants can show support for kids fighting cancer, ALSF, and all who continue to search for a cure. Diagnosed before her first birthday, Alexandra “Alex” Scott hosted lemonade stands to raise money to help kids like her until she lost her life to cancer at the age of 8. In 2005, her parents, Liz and Jay Scott, established ALSF to continue her dream of finding a cure for the disease. According to the American Cancer Society, about 11,630 children in the U.S. under the age of 15 will be diagnosed with cancer this year alone. Through pediatric cancer research projects, supporting families affected by cancer, and encouraging kids to help other kids in need by hosting lemonade stands, the organization hopes to aid these children and their families, and–ultimately–find a cure. To date, Alex’s legacy has helped raise more than $60 million. [Read more...]

Toys and Apparel Top Moms’ List of Purchases Influenced by Social Media

Moms love Facebook–but they trust blogs, according to a new study from Child’s Play Communications. Moreover, 92 percent of moms active in social media are buying products as a result of a social media recommendation.

The study, How Moms are Using Social Media RIGHT NOW–and How You Can Make the Most of It, conducted by Child’s Play Communications, was presented for the first time at the eighth annual Marketing to Moms Conference in Chicago, held from October 23 to 24.

Child’s Play reached out to the 1200 moms in its Social Savvy research network–almost all of them regularly active on blogs and social networks–to explore five key questions:

  • What social media platforms do moms currently favor?
  • How has that changed?
  • Why?
  • What social media platforms are impacting purchasing decisions?
  • What products are moms buying as a result of social media recommendations?

Among the study’s findings:

  • Facebook, Twitter, and blogs were the three most popular social media platforms among moms surveyed
  • Pinterest was the platform that most moms (63 percent) tried for the first time this year
  • Instagram topped the list of technologies moms (28 percent) were likely to try next
  • Polyvore and Olioboard were among the new services these early adopters were exploring
  • Moms are spending more time on Facebook than in the past (64 percent of moms) and less time on Twitter (33 percent)
  • Of all social media platforms, blogs impacted moms’ purchasing decisions more than any other (80 percent)
  • Toys were the No. 1 kids’ product purchased by moms as a result of social media recommendations

Child’s Play Communications specializes exclusively in public relations, social media, and word-of-mouth communications for products and services targeted to moms. Based in New York City, the agency has launched an array of proprietary services to engage this influential market through traditional media, online, and in-person, including the award-winning Team Mom, the agency’s own network of mom review-bloggers. For additional information, visit their Web site, blog, like them on Facebook, or follow them on Twitter or Pinterest.

Viddy and Waboba Create a SplashMob

Waboba, the ball that bounces on water, and Viddy, a social media video application, have teamed up to host the first Viddy Meet up and Beach Party SplashMob. People meet for a giant game of Waboba at a selected water location and videos, or “Viddys” will be created and posted on www.Viddy.com, a social media application designed to share bite-sized videos.

Beat the heat and join all the Wabobians folks from Viddy on August 11, from noon until 4:00 pm in front of 101 Ocean Walk at Venice Beach. Videos will be randomly released on the Waboba Facebook page and may pop up on active adventure sites around the web. Visit www.waboba.com to learn more.

This post was originally written by Lindsay Gordon and published by ToyBook.com. For more news, visit www.toybook.com, follow The Toy Book on Twitter, and like The Toy Book on Facebook. The Toy Book is a bimonthly trade magazine covering the toy industry, published by Adventure Publishing Group.

When should licensees activate their public relations campaign?

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

With the advent of the annual Licensing Expo on June 12-14 in Las Vegas, licensors, licensees, companies, and brands will take steps to contemplate their marketing and communications plans for forthcoming product lines. In my work over the past decade with toy and youth entertainment companies, the oft-asked question inevitably comes back to timing, as in “when is the best time to activate my PR program?”

First and foremost, the licensee must consider the obligatory marketing activities detailed in the licensing contract, including advertising and promotion, public relations, and/or trade-show presence. Once established, a marketing and promotion plan (based on the general strategic marketing plan) can be devised to dovetail with the licensor’s objectives.

In addition to following the licensor’s brand-specific style guide, knowing their history of communicating and working with licensing partners can be helpful and provide tremendous insight. For example, gain insight on the licensors’ internal approval process, including key decision makers, to whom things must be submitted, and how long approval typically takes. This information will help to clarify key processes and assist the licensee to plan accordingly. Although some of the following items may seem intuitive, the PR planning process and execution must be meticulously timed to coincide with in-store or on-screen dates.

[Read more...]

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?

[Read more...]

GUEST BLOG: The Generation Born Online is Changing Business Models

by Andy Marken, Marken Communications

If you’re a parent, you have to wonder how a kid can start out knowing zip, zero, nada and in the blink of an eye, they’re rocket scientists! Our son was always handy in managing the VCR, but now that everything is online who cares?

Today’s youngsters—the iGen (interconnected)—don’t know what a VCR is or video tape, they were born wired. Instead of being propped up in front of a television, they’re online.

It’s estimated that 40 percent of U.S. children under the age of 12 will go online at least once a month this year. Nearly half will do so by 2015.

[Read more...]