Nickelodeon came close to inventing a time machine this week when it debuted “The ’90s Are All That,” a block of programming on TeenNick featuring some of Generation Y’s favorite childhood shows. From All That to Hey Arnold!, Salute Your Shorts to The Adventures of Pete and Pete, twenty-somethings can now relive their glory years Tuesday through Saturday between midnight and 4 a.m. (or whenever they want, thanks to the magic of DVR). In honor of the reemergence of characters like Pierre Escargot and Ferguson “Fergface” Darling, we’ve compiled a list of five of our favorite promotional toys that remind us of the 1990s.
A few weeks ago, the President & CEO of the Association of National Advertisers (ANA) put out the following video blog about the association’s new initiative to develop and implement a system of generally accepted brand valuation standards – a system that, he says, our economy currently lacks.
In the video, Bob Liodice discusses the relationship between marketing and brand value. He is a firm believer that investing in the former is essential for the growth of the latter “If we don’t invest in marketing activities,” he says, “we could be damaging our brand value.”
The video comes in the midst of efforts from the Obama administration and the Interagency Working Group on Food Marketed to Children to cut back on the amount of junk food marketing and advertising initiatives specifically geared toward kids. Strict new guidelines have been proposed that could potentially cut current food & beverage advertising expenditures by 20%, reducing total sales by businesses in this industry by $30 billion in as little as a year. Of course, there would be job losses to go along with that dollar amount – 378,000 jobs over a four-year period, according to the ANA.
However, these brands won’t only be losing money and manpower. As Liodice notes in his video, marketing efforts directly relate to brand power, so if marketing initiatives are cut, brand value will also take a hit. He says that “we know empirically that strong brands means strong operating results, which means higher shareholder equity…organizations that have strong brands have a higher stock market value than those that do not.” Putting restrictions on how and to whom members of the food & beverage industry can advertise might not just affect these companies’ employees and profits, but our economy as a whole.
Hello Kitty’s parent company Sanrio has partnered with Ty (creator of the original Beanie Baby) to produce a limited-edition Hello Kitty promotional toy wearing a pint-sized nurse’s uniform imprinted with the message I ♥ JAPAN. Ty alone has pledged to donate $1 million to disaster relief efforts by the American Red Cross to help boost American aid to Japan.
In addition to these cuddly promotional toys, Sanrio has also designed a t-shirt and tote bag that will retail for $10-20 and are currently available on its website as well as in Sanrio boutiques around the United States.
Sanrio and Hello Kitty aren’t only creating cute promotional products to benefit the character’s home country – it has also placed a link on its website encouraging visitors to donate to the American Red Cross and has funneled more than $50,000 in donations to the organization.
Any time a company distributes branded giveaways to end users, the objective is to garner as much exposure as possible. So what better way to guarantee the success of a promotional campaign than by relying on tried and true favorites like the promotional toys featured in Time Magazine’s recently released list of the 100 most influential toys from 1923 to today?
Imprinting your unique logo and custom message on toys is a great way to reinforce your brand among your target audience. Toys are entertaining, light-hearted, and in the case of the items included in Time Magazine’s list, timeless (no pun intended!). Generations have enjoyed playing with Yo-Yos, beach balls, and Magic 8 Balls, and you can help continue the legacy of these universal treasures by incorporating variations of them into your next marketing initiative.
Thirty-three years after its inception, the McDonald’s “Happy Meal” will no longer come complete with a toy. Well, not in San Francisco anyway. This week, the San Francisco Board of Supervisors voted (8-3) to ban the inclusion of toys in children’s meals that do not meet certain nutritional standards. Apparently the so-called Happy Meal either exceeds 600 calories, 640 milligrams of sodium, does not contain fruits and vegetables, or includes beverages with excessive fat or sugar.
The new law is obviously an effort to combat the recent childhood obesity epidemic by making unhealthy foods less appealing for the impressionable youth. McDonald’s is obviously unhappy about the decision – but what about the movie companies whose Happy Meal promotional toys can be worth millions in licensing deals and advertising?
A co-worker of mine found a YouTube video with the robotic performers from one of my favorite childhood places, Showbiz Pizza. I celebrated several birthdays at Showbiz and I was sad to see it change into Chuck E Cheese. I actually enjoyed watching the robots perform, but also loved getting all the promotional toys as well. What goes around always comes back around, and it seems promotional toys are reverting back to the classics with yo-yo’s and Rubik’s cubes. Even though I won’t be able to take my nieces or nephews to Showbiz Pizza, technology has provided a way for me to see a little nostalgia via the internet videos. So long Billy Bob.
A couple of weeks ago I wrote about a cool iPhone app called ‘Pilgrim’s Punch-Out’, inspired by the film (which was inspired by the graphic novel) Scott Pilgrim vs. the World. This time, it’s the other way around: the popular ‘Angry Birds’ game app, which has sold over 6.5 million times downloads, aims to expand its franchise to movies, television, and even promotional toys. Rovio, the Finnish company behind the hit game, plans to create sequels and more versions of the ‘Angry Birds’ game to keep customers engaged with its characters and storyline, according to Variety. An animated YouTube trailer created to kick off this campaign (featured above) has over 5 million views, an encouraging statistic as the company moves forward in its brave endeavor. As Rovio CEO told Variety Daily, “There will be a huge concentration of games coming to smart phones… We hope we can be the first major franchise to come from mobile” (Variety).
photo credit: PolyesterPolaroid
In case you missed my blog post about my love for Harry Potter last October, the basic gist of the entry was that I am a HUGE fan of the adventure-seeking wizard and his enchanted peers. So when I heard about the forthcoming opening of Universal Orlando’s “Wizarding World of Harry Potter” attraction, I could hardly contain my excitement.
Tomorrow, March 9, marks Barbie’s 51st birthday (though she doesn’t look a day past 22). Yes it was 51 years ago that “Barbie” – named after her creator Ruth Handler’s daughter Barbara – was first presented at the American International Toy Fair in New York City. It is estimated that over a billion Barbie dolls have been sold worldwide in over 150 countries since its debut, despite plenty of controversy and lawsuits that have tried to deface this cultural icon. But, alas, Barbie has prevailed through the decades, enchanting the lives of little girls everywhere and helping to boost many other noted brands as a promotional toy.
The “Happy Meal” debuted at the fast-food chain McDonald’s in June of 1979 as an advertising medium to promote McDonald’s as a family restaurant, especially one for those with small children. It cost one dollar, and along with the choice of hamburger or cheeseburger, small fry, and small drink, also came, of course, the Happy Meal Toy, which in 1979 meant either a McDoodler stencil, a puzzle book, a McWrist wallet, an ID bracelet or McDonaldland character erasers. Since then, children across the globe have been delighting in this kid-sized meal with a side of fun found in cheap, plastic promotional toys.