Boasting nine million members worldwide, 44% of which are in the 13 to 17 age range, there’s no question that NeoPets has built up a hefty amount of brand equity with Generation Y. The next step for the site, which charges kids with creating and caring for virtual pets (think on-line Tamagotchi) in an activity-rich web community, is leveraging that equity into off-line licensing and marketing. New chief marketing executive Peter Green is shaping up to be the go-to guy for that expansion push.
The creator of Fox Kids Club Magazine, Green has hit the ground running with two public service-type projects for kids ages 10 to 14 that he’d been mulling over prior to joining NeoPets. ‘I was really just looking for the right home for them,’ he says. Kids of all ages hate being preached to, so Green came up with the idea of letting them try on the role of teacher instead, educating their NeoPets about procedures for coping with natural disasters this month with ‘Quake Ready,’ and about proper uses for the 911 number in July with ’911 For Kids.’ Green signed Shaquille O’Neal up to endorse the public service programs, tapping into contacts he acquired while serving as advertising and promotion designer for the Athletes and Entertainers for Kids charity.
Next up, Green will work on putting together a style guide to introduce NeoPets to various potential licensees, a skill he honed while working on licensing campaigns for Disney animated features like The Lion King, Aladdin and Pocahontas. To start, Green will be targeting his pitch to plush toy and T-shirt licensees, branching out into soft drinks, electronic games, publishing and back-to-school merch (backpacks, binders, etc.), as well as other apparel and toy categories down the road.
NeoPets is also in negotation with an as-yet-unnamed Asian company to jointly launch a separate site for that corner of the world.