Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Toys and the Internet

As the annual American International Toy Fair in New York comes to a close, one of the largest internationl toy fairs, I'm sure concerns over product safety will have loomed large considering how 2007 was the year of high-profile recalls of China-made products that hurt U.S. toy sales.

As an estimated 15,000 buyers from 7,000 retailers will have converged at the Jacob Javits Center this week, and you'd think with a weakened American economy, more and more people are moving to games and toys in order to brighten spirits.

Toy makers also are confronting the impact on costs of the rising price of labour and commodities, the appreciation of the Chinese currency.

So one thing that springs to mind is how does a toy maker captilize on profits, good press, and create a buzz factor?

It's now more commonplace that toys have their own website tie-ins, if not about the manufacturer, but the specific toy itself. An example is with one of our clients, PFF Entertainment, who will be exhibiting their brand new board game, Sexy Slang, at the fair. PFF Entertainment is the innovator of the board game Pervartistry, which in short, is "Win, Lose, or Draw" for adults -- however the game is so much fun that hardly anyone ever loses. Sexy Slang is a spin-off of Pervartistry in that all terms are guessed through charades rather than through someone's attempt at raunchy stick figures.

Both these board games have their own dedicated websites (which Red Dream Studios has contributed to) that promote the game, let you order the game online, but also tout a line of clothing that contains some of the terms within the games. PFF has done a wonderful job at creating a buzz surrounding the game though online portals. And yes, there are YouTube clips of people talking about the game, playing the game, and having fun, and there's a MySpace page as well.

The interesting thing here is that PFF Entertainment, as a company, does not have a website. Rather, they've decided to dedicate their websites to the games themselves. It's the game that sells, after all, not the company.

All this to say that the internet is now a more powerful tool than ever in a marketing department's arsenal. If you're not using it effectively, it's game over.

For more information, visit Red Dream Studios.

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