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Toy Division

May 25, 2018

What toys can teach us about marketing

 

Chances are you have been a child at some point in your life.

So, you have most likely played with a toy or two. You’ve probably experienced the giddy thrill of turning your bedroom floor into another world—with its tiny, plastic inhabitants going on crazy adventures all the way from your bed to your desk and back again.

But, behind all that childhood innocence was a far stronger force; one that was pulling the puppet strings and making a lot of the ‘vroom vroom’ noises. A force known as marketing.

The marketing of toys has the same principles as any other type of marketing: you need to establish your target audience, find out what their needs are, and aim to cater for them.

All of this is explored in the Netflix documentary series, The Toys That Made Uswhich has one season of four episodes available, and is about to release season two.

Each instalment examines the history and success of a particular toy line—via branding, rabid fan bases, and the critical factor of marketing.

The series covers toys like Star Wars, Barbie, The Transformers, Lego and Hello Kitty.

 

‘The Toys That Made Us’ (IMAGE: NETFLIX)

 

The Transformers, for example, is a brand that has been going for well over thirty years and is a perfect specimen of one that keeps its target audience in focus, and ‘transforms’ itself (sorry) to suit changing needs.

As a brand, it has been reinvented dozens of times over the course of its history. It has utilised different mediums, created countless products, and managed to stay ahead of the curve.

It’s even amassed a franchise of live-action films that, while thin on any semblance of plot (or sense), still help to make it an even greater global phenomenon.

How did they do it? It’s all in the marketing.

“The Transformers … keeps its target audience in focus, and ‘transforms’ itself (sorry) to suit changing needs.”

 

Then there is Lego, another brand that knows plenty about regeneration. In 2003, the famous brick company almost went bankruptbut managed to reset its foundations by turning its attention back to its original target audience and marketing strategies. It got back to what originally made it popular—but also explored new, lucrative markets such as its incredibly successful 2014 film and subsequent spin-offs.

While having such heavy emphasis on marketing aimed at children may seem like a fairly morally-ambiguous line to tread, one can’t argue with its effectiveness when done well.

Marketers can learn plenty from some of the biggest kids’ brands in the world, and hopefully the main lesson they take away is that—while innocence can’t be brought back—a brand sure can.

If you need any marketing advice for your brand (or thoughts on the best iteration of The Transformers), then we are Dando.

Contact us on 1300 932 435 or helen@wearedando.com.

 

‘The Toys That Made Us’ is currently available on Netflix.

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