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Going viral after the virus: Fanbytes’ Timothy Armoo talks the new future of toy marketing

Timothy Armoo is the CEO and founder of Fanbytes, a digital marketing business that has shot to success in the three short years it has been plying its trade as a leading light in Gen Z marketing and tapping into the global TikTok sensation early doors. At 24 years old, Fanbytes is Armoo’s third business.

At the age of 17, the young entrepreneur had sold his second business, EntrepreneurXpress, a platform that held open the door for his subsequent success in the world of social media marketing.

Before the coronavirus really took hold of the UK earlier this year, Armoo – working alongside the team at Playtime PR – launched the first TikTok campaign for the global toymaker Bandai and its Yolkies product campaign.

Bandai is just one of five major toy companies that Armoo’s company is now working with, and one of many more global entertainment brands that have turned to the young marketing magician to better tap into today’s younger audiences.

ToyNews catches up with Timothy Armoo, CEO and founder of Fanbytes for his insight on the future of toy marketing in a post-pandemic world.

Last time we connected, Fanbytes had just kicked off a marketing campaign with Bandai – how did it all go? What was response like, and what kind of engagement did you guys see with that?

The reception was incredible, the brand Yolkies was a perfect fit for TikTok and working with the team at PlayTime PR meant that we could have a full 360 approach both with media and PR. The content now stands at millions of views but most important are the comments, with a 93 per cent positive sentiment across the comment. TikTok is one of those platforms where it can be very easy to swipe and leave

A lot has happened since back then. How have things evolved at Fanbytes over the last few months? How has lockdown and the pandemic impacted on the social media marketing space in that time?

Pretty interesting. At the start of the lockdown, we brought out the Bytehouse which was the first-ever UK TikTok house which did insanely well. We put 6 of the biggest and most influential creators on TikTok in one house to create content We’ve now clocked over 100 million views on our content and we signed on What Do You Meme as our games partner which did very well and now work with Rubik’s, Gymshark and even helped Government organizations with spreading the word about coronavirus.

I think the pandemic has accelerated some changes in the social media world where agencies who solely relied on client revenue from one service are failing. We’ve had to be nimble in what we do constantly bringing out products and services which are innovative. The Bytehouse for example was featured on BBC News, Sky and every major press article because it was genuinely innovative, taking all the IP and insight we’d used from helping brands reach this audience to then build our own brand.

How far do you think the last few months will influence the future of social media marketing? Will brands be adopting the ‘home made’ social media approach more? Have you guys seen an increase in activity here?

Yes, this was a trend we were already seeing with people not needing the Hollywood treatment of content with “shot at home” becoming more in vogue. It’s clear this works. People buy from people and the less photoshopped and real it looks the better.

Fanbytes is working with some big names in entertainment – Warner, Universal, Paramount and more – why are companies like these now turning their attention to this kind of marketing, and Fanbytes in particular? 

I think it’s because we’ve stayed incredibly true to what we do. Helping brands win Gen Z audiences. Everything we do is centred around that. The insights we share on our socials, the language we use when communicating to clients, it’s one of those things that if you’re an expert in, people will always come to you for.

We often turn down work if we think we can’t do a good job which is quite funny sometimes, try saying to your investors we turned down this six figure deal because we didn’t feel like it hit our sweet spot! But it’s been a good decision for us.

What’s the uptake been like from the toy industry to date? What potential do you think this market has for TikTok marketing – is the industry waking up to idea, and is it being quick enough to react?

We now work with five of the biggest Toy companies in Europe and funnily enough, they’ve all come to us. I think the shift has come because people think that on TikTok it’s just brand awareness, however, when you show clear case studies of being able to drive sales, that always wins.

We’ve developed a framework we use for all our campaigns which works exceptionally well to drive sales and when we can predictably guarantee results that’s very strong. We’re also starting to bring out long term collaborations with these toy brands, rather than just a simple collaboration.

What do you think the next stage of evolution for influencer/social media marketing could be for brands and for the toy industry in particular?

I think it’s going to be deeper integrations between influencers and brands where people will bring out their own collection in partnership with a brand. You see a lot of makeup brands doing this, but I think it will extend to toys where the influencer could bring out their own range of a particular toy. This makes intuitive sense. Most toy manufacturers sell through retailers so with a bit of personalisation you could have the influencer as the retailer, which will drive huge volume and sales.

How did this all get started for you? What does the future look like for Fanbytes in the coming years – any big plans we can be shouting about?

I built my first company at 14 and sold my second company, EntrepreneurXpress at 17 which really got me into the social media world. I started Fanbytes in university three years ago and it has grown well into being a strong force in the advertising world which I’m very proud of.

The future is very interesting for us, using our expertise we are building our own products tailored to Gen Z as well as branding out the agency itself into supporting clients on a whole range of things including paid media + partnerships. Of course, we’re also gearing up for our US launch, we do a lot of business there but no real meaningful presence. That’s going to change soon.

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