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Toys `R’ Us ad deal integrates the Mouse House’s media offerings

As the kids upfront winds down, cash-strapped media buyers have kept a tight fist on their ad dollars and fancied more bang for their buck this year. In response, kidcasters are searching for ways to offer more. The word on the...
August 1, 2001

As the kids upfront winds down, cash-strapped media buyers have kept a tight fist on their ad dollars and fancied more bang for their buck this year. In response, kidcasters are searching for ways to offer more. The word on the street is that integrated, cross-platform deals with major ad buys across one company’s numerous media is the strategy du jour.

‘These kinds of deals really deliver a lot of synergies and opportunities that aren’t there when you go piece by piece,’ says Mel Berning, president of U.S. broadcast at MediaVest. In this year’s soft ad market, he says the objective on the sell side is to put all assets on the table to net a greater share of an advertiser’s total spend.

Disney certainly banked on this strategy, having signed an integrated deal with Toys `R’ Us in June, valued at between US$25 million and US$30 million. The kid market component of the deal, pegged at US$1.5 million, gives the toy retailer exposure across a wide variety of Disney holdings including Toon Disney, ABC’s Disney Kids Network (including Disney’s One Saturday Morning block), Disney Magazine, Disney Adventures magazine, Buena Vista’s Family Fun magazine, Radio Disney and Disney.com. The larger deal targeting moms includes buys on ABC prime-time shows, daytime blocks, news programming, Lifetime and E! Entertainment.

According to Shelley Watson, Starcom Worldwide’s VP and media director in the broadcast investment group, this deal is the first of its kind because it’s not about price. ‘Toys `R’ Us is actually talking to kids this year to communicate its objectives,’ says Watson, who spearheaded the media buy for Toys `R’ Us.

With three main TRU business goals collectively titled ‘Mission Possible,’ (the opening of the flagship store in Times Square October 12, coinciding with outfitting top Toys `R’ Us stores with a more kid-friendly format; hitting screens November 4, the Monsters, Inc. promotion, in which TRU is a licensee and promotional partner with Disney; and the November 4 publication of the chain’s Big Book catalog with a circulation of 52 million), each of the ABC/Disney divisions contributed a proposal of initiatives to support the overall promotional plan.

‘I see the future of kids media buying really being about cross-platform deals and integration for the sake of achieving an objective, not just for the sake of doing a deal,’ says Watson. She adds that the key to these deals is that they’re idea-driven and that idea runs across all the media platforms.

Bill Bund, senior VP of the integrated sales group at ABC Unlimited, the unit that gathered all the Disney offerings for Toys `R’ Us into one room, believes that integrated deals appeal to many kid advertisers because they offer a one-stop shopping experience. ‘It’s about serving up all media assets as one. It’s ease of execution, and it’s one voice.’

Commenting on the future of these pacts in the kids biz, Dan Longest, senior VP of integrated marketing and promotion at ABC Unlimited says: ‘Who knows where this trend is going to go and how much of the overall business is going to be incorporated into these integrated deals, but there clearly is an appetite for them on all fronts.’

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