We catch up with Marianne James, vp EMEA consumer products, for an update on the company’s first half of the year.
On December 31, 2019, Hasbro officially completed its acquisition of eOne, accelerating what chairman and ceo, Brian Goldner, referred to as the company’s ‘blueprint strategy’.
As Marianne James, vice president EMEA consumer products, explains, Hasbro now truly has something for everyone in its portfolio – from infant and preschool through to older kids, adults and families.
“We focus our consumer products activities around the Brand Blueprint, which is our strategic framework for bringing our brands to life in exciting new ways,” she says, echoing Brian’s comments from his acquisition statement. “The Brand Blueprint is our North Star to create immersive, 360-degree experiences for our audiences. We’re focused on deeper consumer engagement, innovative brand and product experiences and increasingly expansive opportunities for our portfolio.”
Marianne continues: “Each brand activates the Blueprint differently, but every day, we work to unlock the maximum value of our brands by igniting the full Blueprint. It’s really all about leveraging these great story driven properties to deliver new ways to play for fans of all ages and creating exciting experiences both at retail and online for fans to enjoy all around the world.”
The start of 2020 began with the excitement and planning for the integration of the Hasbro and eOne portfolios. Marianne – who has a history of success working with high profile preschool brands during her tenure at Nickelodeon (now ViacomCBS Consumer Products) – says: “We’re particularly excited to drive deeper in preschool and explore themes and play patterns complementary to our existing brands. Ricky Zoom, PJ Masks and, of course, Peppa Pig, are standouts, and we have more brands in development.”
While there is no official announcement as yet on the internal structure, Marianne tells us: “We’re now one fully integrated licensing team, operating as one, meaning we have new organisational structure to support our expanded portfolio across EMEA, with a good mix of talent brought over from what was the eOne team and the Hasbro team to make up one powerhouse of a team for the UK.”
As well as the eOne brands, Hasbro is also seeing great momentum with Nerf in multiple categories across the region, and in particular in the UK across apparel and home. In addition, Marianne promises some “exciting” collaborations and announcements planned for later in the year and through 2021 to celebrate the Monopoly brand’s 85th anniversary.
As consumer behaviour changes due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Marianne is keen to highlight that Hasbro recognises the need to remain agile, diversifying its category focus and mix to address the changing needs of the world. One example of this has been the introduction of the Bring Home the Fun initiative (see box out below), while the company also has an eye on the ecomms and value channel. Marianne offers: “With some retailers still closed and even when they do re-open, operating under social distancing rules, more and more consumers will turn to online shopping and we’re ready to embrace that with our product offering and promotional mix.
“As consumer behaviour changes, we are also seeing growth in Food, Health & Wellness, Personal Care, Puzzles & Games, Home Goods and Classic Play from our Vault brands like Spirograph and Lite Brite.”
Looking at the remainder of 2020 and into 2021, a key focus is on achieving a “smooth and compelling” integration of the new combined portfolio into retail, says Marianne.
“Our brand portfolio is our strength that will set us up for success in 2021 to activate in adjacent retail channels to the traditional and boldly lead the market in a 360 approach from consumer products, digital, experiential, content and brand marketing,” she concludes.
Hasbro announced the launch of Bring Home the Fun in March in response to millions of families worldwide adjusting to staying at home.
The global initiative was created to further Hasbro’s purpose to ‘make the world a better place for children and their families’ by providing parents and caregivers resources to help keep kids occupied and engaged during extended time at home and indoors.
The site – www.bringhomethefun.com – includes a raft of family-focused resources such as tips for family playtime, activity challenges, ideas for using games and toys to stimulate kids’ brains and suggestions on how to cope with emotional stress.
Hasbro’s brands and content are used to help parents and caregivers find inspiration for not only bringing the power of play into homes, but also keeping an emphasis on fun and creativity. Crafts using Play-Doh compounds, trick-shot challenges which get kids active with Nerf blasters, plus content from Transformers, Power Rangers and My Little Pony and others are all featured.