Transformers has been one of Hasbro’s biggest success stories. Its roots may be firmly in the toy industry, but over the past two years the brand has been reinvented and shaped into a bona fide entertainment phenomenon.
And the consumer products programme reflects this – it’s not just toys any more; it’s apparel, accessories, video games, electronics, food, sports, publishing, stationery, social expression items and mobile among other categories. Indeed, Hasbro has struck more than 250 licensing deals worldwide for the Transformers brand.
“The brand has become a global phenomenon, with roots as a toy that has evolved into a major industry and cultural powerhouse with an engaging and compelling storyline that resonates with millions of fans worldwide,” Isabelle Gilmour, vice president of consumer products, EMEA at Hasbro, explained to Licensing.biz last month (click here to read the full interview). “This fantasy has enabled us to reinvent, re-imagine and reignite the Transformers brand in a variety of extraordinary ways.”
The first film, which was released in the summer of 2007, generated global box office sales of $700 million. Hopes are obviously now high that the sequel – Revenge of the Fallen – can better this. As of June 22nd, it had reaped $22.3 million in the first territories to launch, which were the UK, Ireland, Malta (these three accounted for $15.6 million of the total) and Japan (which took around $6.7 million). The big test comes this weekend, as the film rolls out across the remaining key box offices, including the US.
Movie reviewers may have been a little bit sniffy about the plot, but this is unlikely to put off the core audience. Revenge of the Fallen is big, bold and noisy, and it’s not claiming to be anything else; in short, perfect summer school holiday watching.
Back in the core area of toys, Hasbro’s product development team has been looking at making the offerings even more representative of their big screen counterparts. The main action figure lines return, backed up with a fresh look at role play and the younger kids scene, while there is also a new vehicle collection.
“We have huge brand awareness, but what we’re now doing is trying to drive awareness past the key characters and further into the cast,” Grant Gie, Hasbro’s UK marketing manager for boys, tells the July issue of sister title ToyNews. “It’s no longer just about Optimus, Bumblebee, Megatron and Starcream. We want kids to know six or seven names, so collector posters and character images featuring names will be key.”
Paramount has also been working hard to secure cross-promotional activity. General Motors, Burger King, T-Mobile, Walkers and M&Ms are just some of the big name partners on board. Plans for the DVD launch just ahead of the key Christmas period will also enable licensees and partners to underline their marketing efforts.
“We’ll be working with Paramount to pull together a strong retail opportunity,” Gie concludes.