So, I want to try something different this week before we get into the mechanics of how the toy industry thrives in the face of constant market disruptions and technology advances. I wanted to show you a much bigger picture of what’s possible and how you can create similar possibilities for your products and services when you incorporate stories with the idea of play.
That said, we’re still going to be talking about toys and how the industry has continuously challenged its players to stay relevant and competitive through the art of storytelling and meaning. Except this time around, I’m going to highlight its exponential growth through the years by hitting up some reading recommendations you can bite into over the week.
Meanwhile, I’m going to put together a more comprehensive case study that highlights not only the role of storytelling in the way we reimagine the element of play, but also how story plays a pivotal role in accentuating the growth of our beloved toy brands.
Here we go!
A Whole New World
“Transmedia storytelling represents a process where integral elements of a fiction get dispersed systematically across multiple delivery channels for the purpose of creating a unified and coordinated entertainment experience. Ideally, each medium makes its own unique contribution to the unfolding of the story,” says Henry Jenkins, a Professor of Communication, Journalism and Cinematic Arts at the University of California.
The article, How Transmedia Made LEGO the Most Powerful Brand in the World, looks at the growth of LEGO as a brand and as one of the most innovative toy company that manages to keep up with the times without losing its core value.
When the toy industry took a hit during the 2018 recession, the year when Toys “R” Us shut its doors for good, Hasbro saw a 12% drop in revenue. Meanwhile, Mattel, its toughest competitor, also lost over USD 500 million in revenue. Brian Goldner, Hasbro’s CEO, who is credited for bringing the toy brand back from under a heap of old toys and glory days, made a huge bet on turning the business into an all-out storytelling machine.
“People were asking, ‘Why is [story] essential?’ and ‘Does that add more volatility?’ You actually have more volatility when you’re relying on other people to provide you all the entertainment for your portfolio,” says Goldner, highlighting the fact that “stories” didn’t use to be Hasbro’s business.
Goldner’s first breakthrough in elevating the brand is to focus on Transformers, a 1980s hit cartoon that gave birth to a line of miniature cars which can be converted into bipedal robots. His payoff? Attaching Bumblebee and Optimus Prime as main characters to draw attention — and taking them to the silver screen.
As they say, the rest is history. Read more on how Goldner transformed Hasbro by tapping into the best stories that is Not A Toy Story.
The Rise of Toniebox
There’s a new storytelling toy in town and it’s called the Toniebox. The German company, Tonies, has created a screen-free toy for children to play with. The box’s only feature is to play and record stories. In Europe, the box has sold millions even though it costs nearly USD 100. Recently, it has entered the US and Australian markets at a time when children are stuck at home — and the idea that they get to listen and record stories is so simple and fun, it captures the attention of toymakers everywhere.
The pandemic has given way to a new form of play — and this is how stories grow. Read more on why European kids are loving the Toniebox.
Up next week on Monday, Feb 8: Toys That Change Us
Stay tuned, you.
Play with me?
Co-Founder and Chief Creative Officer
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