As the toy industry gathers at Toy Fair New York, attendees aren’t just looking for the hottest new toys and games for the year ahead — they’re also looking for ways to connect with kids and families. After all, a great toy will never become a global hit if kids and parents don’t know that it exists. That’s where Diaframma comes in.

The Italian studio has been serving the toy industry for more than 40 years, creating memorable commercials for iconic brands and toys. The company’s roster of current and past clients includes companies such as Nintendo, Spin Master, MGA Entertainment, VTech, Rubik’s, and WowWee, for brands including L.O.L. Surprise!, Pokémon, Rubik’s, and more. The company is known for its creative team, a wide array of services, and vast storytelling ability.

The Toy Book caught up with Jehan Hindo, Diaframma’s vice president of U.S. sales, for some insight as to how the company has grown and expanded over the years and how it continues to evolve to serve toymakers of any size across an ever-changing array of platforms.

“Diaframma was created by Daniele Abolaffio in 1976, and with his vision he saw an opportunity in toys and dove in headfirst, making a name internationally throughout Europe and the U.S.,” Hindo explains. “With his expertise and passion, his son Duccio joined the company in 2010 and gave it a shiny new makeover. Duccio invested in new camera equipment and new technology for our creative team and post-production facilities. But, most importantly, he recruited fresh talent and built a new, energized team that nicely balanced veteran professionals with industry experience and hungry new blood. We strive to stay on top of the latest visual trends and advancements in cinema technology.”

Among the recent innovations that Diaframma has in its creative arsenal, Hindo points to one in particular that has been a big hit.

“We recently invested in a fancy new piece of equipment called the BOLT,” she says. “This is a special robotic arm that has been helping our commercials turn heads.”

At Diaframma, the BOLT robotic camera arm works to capture the detail of a scratch-built set for a recent commercial campaign.

The Toy Book: How can Diaframma assist newer toymakers that are looking to expand upon their video advertising efforts?
Jehan Hindo: We look at each client relationship as a partnership and collaboration. We think of ourselves as an extension of our client’s company and brand. This has been the foundation of which Diaframma was built on. And for this reason, we are always willing to jump into the deep end with new toymakers to give them the chance to get their first TV commercial done in an affordable way, with all the best practices we can offer. Our clients’ success is our success as well. We like to see the underdog rise up and are happy to be a part of everyone’s home runs.

Not only do we look at our client relationships as partnerships, but we also strategize on how we can maximize benefits and assets for our clients. We build beautiful branded sets from scratch, and instead of shooting just the commercials, we reuse elements to create digital campaigns including social teasers, how-to demos, and behind the scene videos.

Diaframma

As young actors rehearse, final touches are applied to a physical clubhouse set, which includes green screen windows, to be completed by Diaframma in post-editing.

TB:  Diaframma’s skill sets run the gamut, from live-action to animated content. What kind of timeframe should toymakers expect to have for creating a proper campaign from concept to completion?
JH: We are a full-service agency — a one-stop-shop — and we pride ourselves on that. Each project has its own challenges, but on average, we like to quote our clients a time frame between 6 to 12 weeks from script to screen. It really all depends on client approval, too. We like to give our creatives at least 2 weeks to brainstorm and prep creative after we have been debriefed on a project. From there, the train is moving and we aspire to deliver on-time results and be fully prepped before a shoot so it’s smooth sailing once we’re on set.

Diaframma Sets

From colorful urban streetscapes to a pool party indoors, Diaframma can create the perfect set for any toy.

TB: Aside from the jump from television to on-demand streaming on the go, how has toy advertising changed since Diaframma first launched?
JH: In recent years, we have really seen and felt the power of toy influencers, and this was something that was mesmerizing to watch unfold. We saw it happening in the TV entertainment world in which sitcoms were being replaced by reality TV series, creating overnight celebrities and opening new marketing doors for all kinds of products. The toy advertising industry was hit the same way with YouTube influencers running their own channels for unboxing videos, how-to tutorials, experimental challenges, and toy play. It’s part of the landscape now. So we’re always thinking of ways to leverage these new advertising formats and platforms to complement our tentpole TV commercial campaigns. It’s all about multiplatform frequency to extend reach and increase brand awareness and engagement.

Post Production at Diaframma

Diaframma offers full production services from concept through post-editing.

TB: What sets Diaframma apart from other creative production studios in the toy and game space?
JH: I’m really proud to be a part of Diaframma. We’ve grown substantially over the last four years. I always tell my clients and people outside of our industry how special and unique Diaframma is and I’ll tell you as well: It’s all about the people. We have a diverse mix of extremely talented people who have passion, expertise, and creativity. And that’s what this industry requires. We produce more than 200 commercials a year, and as you can imagine, we not only need to be a well-oiled machine, but we need to constantly challenge ourselves and our teammates to be constantly elevating and evolving. We’re really a great team and that’s so satisfying. We create every set piece from scratch. A lot of love goes into all of the tiny details. Our Toy Techs have over 45 years of experience and continue to surprise and delight our clients with how adroitly they manipulate the toys in a way that hadn’t been anticipated.  That’s engagement, and it translates to the viewing audience. The creative team is hands-on, totally immersing themselves in our clients’ products. One of our key strengths is having everything in-house. From casting and wardrobe to the art department, post-production, and sound engineering, it creates a tight, consistent creative package for our clients. Nothing ever feels tacked on. Plus, it makes us super nimble and responsive. It’s the right recipe for successful client relationships and advertising that works.

And let’s not forget, who doesn’t want to spend a couple of workdays in beautiful Tuscany? (Of course, after we wrap the shoot!)


Jehan Hindo and members of the Diaframma team will attend Toy Fair New York, taking place from Feb. 22-25 at the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center.

To set up a meeting or find out more, email jehan.hindo@diaframma.com.

Click here to view the Toy Book‘s full coverage of Toy Fair New York.