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Care-ing for the past: Nostalgia brings back popular toys

BY CSA STAFF

Nostalgia is a key theme for licensed toys being released this fall as toys from the ’80s (that Mom and Dad played with) are making a major comeback. The Cabbage Patch Kids, Care Bears and Popples are all refreshing their looks with new product and major marketing campaigns to support them.

Play Along Toys and 4Kids Entertainment will be working together to launch a Lil’ Sprouts Cabbage Patch Kids collection this fall, targeted to girls ages 2 to 7.The Sprouts are smaller dolls that stand 5-inches tall, and they come with long hair, trendy clothing and their own accessories. Much like the bigger Cabbage Patch dolls, each Sprout comes with its own name and birth certificate.

“We wanted to refresh the Cabbage Patch collection, but still keep the same look and feel of the big dolls,” said Colleen Gilday, vp of marketing and sales for 4Kids Entertainment. “But this is not a relaunch—Cabbage Patch Kids have always been successful, and more than 112 million dolls have been adopted since 1983.”

Cabbage Patch Kids will celebrate its 25th anniversary next year, and 4Kids also has partnered with other companies, such as Carvel and QVC, and this fall, the Sprouts will have their own concept store in Toys “R” Us Times Square.

The Care Bears celebrate their 25th birthday this year, as well as the fifth year since the brand was relaunched at the Licensing Show. The bears will have an all-new look, based on the upcoming “Oopsy Does It” movie. The corresponding plush toys, also done by Play Along, will land in stores in August. The company will also introduce the Care Bears Sing-Along Friends and a commemorative 25th anniversary bear, which comes in a special collector’s box packaged with a DVD of the first-ever, never-before-seen TV special for the brand. The Care Bears will also be back on television for the first time in two decades this fall on CBS at 8 a.m.

Parents and grandparents have played a major role in helping the Care Bears brand succeed, according to Debra Joester, president of the Joester-Loria Group, which manages the brand.

“Care Bears has an extremely high, 97% familiarity rating among moms with kids ages 2 to 5, and 96% brand awareness for first-time expectant moms, according to Synovate Research we had done for us,” Joester said. “NPD has ranked us as the No. 4 girls’ property—these are tremendous stats considering we’ve only really been back out there for five years now as a brand.”

Parents and grandparents both enjoy the nostalgic quality that the Care Bears brand brings, Joester said, and they are reaching out to share it with their children.

“We really owe our success to the emotional connection we have with grandparents and parents out there, who are reaching out to engage in the brand again and share it with a new generation,” she said.

Finally, the Popples are coming back this fall as well. Playmates Toys will launch the new redesigned line, which includes 14-inch Popples and mini 4-inch Pufflings, plus Pop ‘n’ Giggle Popples, Pop ‘n’ Mini Message Popples, Pop ‘n’ Fun Baby Popples and Pop ‘n’ Music Popples. Mini Message Popples allow children to record personal messages to keep or share with a friend, while Music Popples have music and sound recognition and encourage children to dance and sing with them. The Baby Popples include an interactive electronic nurturing gadget in their bellies, and the Giggle Popples giggle when children pop them out of their pouches.

“The unbridled enthusiasm and joy inherent in the Popples property has inspired us to create fun interactive surprises for each character that encourage children to use their imagination,” said Holli Hoffman, director of girls marketing for Playmates Toys. “We believe that the Popples plush are part of an inspiring brand with a message that matters.”

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Hooker names upholstery head

BY CSA STAFF

MARTINSVILLE, Va. Hooker Furniture has appointed Alan Cole to the new position of evp of upholstery, in which he will oversee the operations of Hooker Furniture subsidiaries Bradington-Young and Sam Moore Furniture.

In addition to overseeing the operations of Sam Moore and Bradington-Young, Cole will help develop further growth plans for Hooker’s imported accent chair product line. He also will be involved in strategic planning for HFC and will oversee any future acquisitions of upholstered furniture operations.

 

Cole, who has held senior executive positions at leading upholstered furniture companies including Broyhill, Berkline and Schnadig, “has the expertise in upholstery that uniquely qualifies him to help us realize one of our strategic objectives, which is to become a more important and complete upholstered furniture resource,” said Paul Toms Jr., chairman, ceo and president of Hooker Furniture.

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Best Buy selects new ad agency

BY CSA STAFF

MINNEAPOLIS Best Buy announced Thursday that it has chosen BBDO New York as its advertising agency for the Best Buy brand. The selection of BBDO follows a multi-month-long review for the Best Buy brand account, which was previously handled internally.

“We believe this partnership with BBDO New York will enable us to support the company’s aggressive growth goals and to build and enhance our capabilities,” said Ruby Anik, Best Buy’s senior vp of marketing communications. “We are excited to leverage BBDO’s creative expertise, brand experience and spirit of collaboration in further differentiating Best Buy as the consumer’s trusted guide to technology solutions.”

BBDO New York’s scope of work will include account planning, ad strategy and execution, and media and consumer connection planning. Estimated billings, as measured by media spending, will be $170 to $200 million. The firm will begin work immediately on internally-focused projects supporting Best Buy’s brand position.

 

In addition, Best Buy will expand its relationship with Crispin, Porter + Bogusky beyond Geek Squad to partner on business development and in-store activation opportunities for the Best Buy brand.

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