New Hasbro chief looks beyond toys

Hasbro's new CEO Brian Goldner has outlined his vision of a cross-medium future for the firm.
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Goldner, Hasbro's chief operating officer since 2006, takes over as chief executive this week from Al Verrecchia and has already outlined his vision for the firm beyond the traditional toy industry.

"What does that look like as an online game? Can that be a cell phone game? Should that be a TV show? Can that be a movie?" he said. "That's the way we're thinking about our brands today and our strategy for the company."

He joined the firm from Bandai in 2000 as chief operating officer of its Tiger Electronics division.Coming from an advertising background too, he says he admires the way the film industry is able to optimise a brand's potential across a number of markets.

"They understand what it means to activate a brand or a movie on multiple levels simultaneously in order get the audience in on the weekend," he said. "I learned a lot in working with them."

Goldner has made working with Hollywood a key part of his vision. The first test was last year's Transformers movie, based on the Hasbro toy line, which has taken in more than $700 million worldwide and has a sequel scheduled for next summer.

The movie's success helped revive the brand, and fueled Goldner's plans to put more Hasbro brands on movie screens. A movie based on Hasbro's long-ignored G.I. Joe action figures is also scheduled for next summer.

Hasbro also has deals with Universal to make four movies based on Hasbro games and toys and with video game publisher Electronic Arts, giving it exclusive rights to create digital games based on Hasbro's products.

The Littlest Pet Shop line of collectible toy pets already has a Web site, Littlest Pet Shop VIPs, where girls can enter a virtual world with their pet, and coming soon will be three different games for the Nintendo DS based on the line.

Goldner said the company expects to grow this year, despite the economic downturn. About 75 per cent of the company's product line costs $20 or less at retail, and he says the industry has performed very well in the last four recessions.

"The key for us today is staying hungry and focused on our significant opportunities to go forward," he said. "We want to be everywhere consumers are, anywhere they are."



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