The Media Play In the Business of "Play"

This article appeared in Toy Fair Times 2015

Toy Fair Times 2015


By David Becker, President, Blue Plate Media Services

Just because you sold product in doesn’t mean you’ll sell product through.  Hopeful marketing and wishful thinking might work in the movies, but it is not a viable tactic when money is on the line and your product is sitting on shelf unsupported.  A smartly planned and surgically executed media campaign is pivotal in marketing product today.  It’s a “must have” to gain sell-in and a “gotta have” to drive sell-through.  An underfunded media campaign can often be just as ineffective as a non-existent one.  And an ill timed, far forward, strategy might satisfy your buyers (initially) but will do little to drive product when holiday traffic kicks in and the budget wears out.   

So, what is a marketer to do? 

First, you need to establish a viable budget to build a media plan that will deliver against campaign objectives. But, unfortunately, money doesn’t fall from the sky.  A media budget must come from somewhere.  There are steps you can take to establish budget.  You can look at the competition to see what they spend, work off an A/S (advertising to sales ratio), back into a budget or bake one in, meaning that each unit sold includes a dollar amount allotted to media.  The latter is an ideal scenario, providing your margins can support it.

Once budget is established, you’ll need a media plan.  Your plan should align with distribution.  You’ll need to establish a mix of relevant media that will reach and engage your target audience and drive them to action.

You’ll need to strategize a flight, the pivotal weeks when your media campaign will run. Are you focusing on the six weeks leading into Easter, the fifteen weeks leading into Holiday, or sometime in between?  If you sell in for Fall, and are on shelf in August when plan-o-grams change, your buyer might justifiably want to see early movement.  Not an easy task since holiday shopping won’t kick in for another 2+ months. You may be persuaded to invest in August/September to drive early sales, but you’ll need enough firepower to carry you through the holiday season.  A tricky trap that you’ll need to address carefully. You don’t want to come out heavy and leave yourself weak when the merchandise meets the money, during the frenzy of holiday shopping.  So, it is imperative to establish a flight strategy that will drive your brand while also satisfying your buyer’s request.   It can be a balancing act, and well worth discussing with your retail partners and your media strategy team.

As if establishing your media plan is not hard enough -- the media landscape is continually evolving and your approach to smart media planning should be evolving with it, putting you ahead of the pace.  Everyday there are new opportunities for targeting and message delivery to kids, moms and families, along with new tools to measure behavior and impact.   With proper understanding, and the right media team, you can have a better handle today on what is working to market your product and what is not. 

So, what is the right media mix for your brand? 

Historically, TV has been the big recipient of media when targeting kids.  While TV habits have changed quite a bit, TV viewership among kids remains intact.  But the screens airing the content have multiplied.  Eyeballs have time shifted.  As a result, today, more than ever, successful toy brands grow as a result of a smartly executed mix of integrated media, across consumer touch points. This includes TV, but is not limited by it. 

If you’re a toy marketer, you should know that we are living in a TV/ Digital world.  This year, according to Kantar Media, Online Video spend is up 229% from last year, while Banner spending is up 1.4%, with dollars clearly shifting from TV to the new formats.

Today, with smart planning, and an expert media team, you can plan and make decisions based on Targeting; Viewability; Completed Views and historical performance. The out-of-pocket cost for digital campaigns is now higher than the days of cheap tonnage impressions, but the potential for higher ROI is greater as well.

When planning an integrated media campaign, it is imperative to build a team of talented experts who truly understand the kids space -- from the right media planning and buying agency, to the right public relations and social marketing team, to the right TV/Video production house.  It’s not about cheap media anymore, but smart media that reaches, engages and connects with your audience. We have seen far too many newcomers hire unqualified talent and hope their way through a campaign.  Stop!  Smart, experienced talent goes a long way and sets the stage for a winning campaign.  Too much is at stake to do it any other way.