Hasbro's Transformers plans

Hasbro?s programme for its big summer movie licence Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen is now underway, as the film hits cinemas across the country. Ronnie Dungan spoke to the firm?s UK marketing manager for boys, Grant Gie, about its plans for the robot range?
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With the experience from the first movie, are expectations higher for this range?

“We have really learnt a lot from the first movie and tried to drive innovation even further with our movie two product. The first film opened up Transformers to a whole new market whose first experience with the brand was sitting in an Odeon cinema back in 2007.

Our product development team were tasked with making our toys even more representative of their big screen counter parts. So in the movie when a robot transforms you can see the inner workings of the machinery move and re-position itself.

What’s different about the new product to the first film range?

With the new Revenge of the Fallen product there is more than meets the eye, we have included what we call Mech Alive in our Deluxe, Voyager and Leader action figures. This means that now when you move your action figure you’ll see, through cut outs in chest plates for example, cogs and other elements moving within the toy. All in all we’re very pleased with how this has turned out, it really adds a sense of realism to the figures.

As well as the return of our core action figure lines we’ve also taken a fresh look at Role play and the Younger kids sector.

Kids and adults alike will have the opportunity this year to become Bumblebee. The Bumblebee Voice Mixer helmet features three different modes and allows the wearer to speak ‘through’ the radio just like Bumblebee. It also features battle phrases and sound effects.

In 2007 we launched a role play product which was a Optimus Prime track that converted into a arm blaster which fired Nerf style darts. With regards to our roleplay blaster in 2009, the idea was to truly reflect what kids were seeing on screen, so Bumblebee’s Plasma Cannon was born. This toy fits over your forearm and has two distant modes of play. Firstly in battle mode it represents Bumblebees fist, and by pulling an internal lever you hear metal on metal sound effects as if two robots are in battle.

It can then be transformed into a plasma cannon. This features lights and sounds and now in this mode when you pull the lever you hear a blaster sound effect and the cannon lights up and recoils. That’s just a couple of toys, we have an expansive toy line available from launch with even more products coming through in autumn/winter.

And what others areas are you moving the product into?

Hasbro will also launch an all new vehicle line under the Transformers banner this year called RPM’s. This stands for Robot Powered Machines and are a range of non-transforming vehicles. This product is not movie branded and is a new direction for the brand and a attempt to re-establish ourselves in the vehicle aisle.

The range includes single cars, double packs, track set, R/Cs and a younger expression called battle chargers. The trade response to this line has been very positive and we’re looking forward to launching these trade wide in autumn/winter 2009.

What sort of marketing effort is behind the line and where is it directed?

The theatrical marketing will play a vital part in driving awareness for our characters and the movie experience. This began last week with the introduction of underground posters and will continue to ramp up through movie launch and beyond. As well as paramount doing their part, we will have four TV commercials running through to Christmas which kicked off in June with our core action figure spot. Other featured sectors are the younger kids products, role play and Devastator who is a 120ft Decepticon.

We have huge brand awareness in the UK and globally but what we’re now doing is trying to drive character awareness past the key four characters and further into the cast list. It’s no longer just about Optimus, Bumbleebee, Megatron and Starcream. We want kids to now know six or seven Transformers, so collector posters and character images which also feature character names will be key.

The campaign transcends consumer and collector print, online, TV, trade shows, conventions, road shows and trade marketing.

A movie franchise normally lends itself to a lot of cross-promotional activity, what’s happening in this area?

There are a number of key partners on board with the new movie that Paramount have been working with. Each of these partners bring their own marketing efforts to the table to add to the movie and toy push.

GM will be leveraging their involvement with the new movie by launching a new car called the Cruze. They own an official Bumblebee Camero which will be taken on a nationwide tour and one lucky Sun reader will win the change to win a Cruze.

Burger King will have a national restaurant campaign with themed burgers.

T-Mobile – Win a walk on part in the next Transformers movie when you buy any pay as you go phone
Walkers – 40 million packs will run a money can’t buy prize opportunity.

It’s not just about the movie launch, the DVD plans for the launch later in the year, which will be in time for Christmas allows all partners and licensee to re-ignite the brand in the critical run up to Christmas. We’ll be working with Paramount Home Entertainment to pull together a strong retail opportunity so watch this space.



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