Campaign Spotlight

Marketer: Manley Toy Quest, Los Angeles, California--Steve Tucker, director of marketing; Herb Mitschele, product manager
September 1, 2001

Marketer: Manley Toy Quest, Los Angeles, California–Steve Tucker, director of marketing; Herb Mitschele, product manager


The Scott Group, Agoura Hills, California–Cliff Scott, strategic planning and account supervision

Point Productions, Glendale, California–Steve Jarvis, director/creative director; Dave Woolert, writer; Brad Jarvis, producer

Market: International

The idea: To tout the innovative design behind the Electronic Stretch Screamers monster line for boys five to 11 that hit shelves in August. Manley Toy Quest is aiming to span the key selling windows of Halloween and Christmas with one campaign.

The campaign: One 30-second, English-language TV spot, along with a 15-second cut-down version, will hit next month in the U.S., Canada, the U.K., Australia and New Zealand, with dubbed versions simultaneously debuting in Spain, France and Belgium. The 10-week U.S. campaign will go well into December with exposure on Nickelodeon and other kidnets, as well as various regional buys. In-store support includes dedicated endcaps, and three major retailers will run their own Sunday newspaper circular during the Halloween season. An Electronic Stretch Screamers section on will round out the effort.

Budget: US$10 million

The strategy:

Taking six-figure inventory orders for the Electronic Stretch Screamers from Wal-Mart, Target, Toys ‘R’ Us, Kmart and KB Toys as a sign that the toys will sell through like gangbusters, Manley Toy Quest is planning to roll out heavy TV exposure before the Halloween season in order to cash in on two holiday sales spikes.

In its creative for the spots, Manley wanted to stay true to the actual toy line, which features replicas of Ghoul, Wolfman, Mummy and Frankenstein with gross eye-popping and brain-gushing mechanisms that are triggered when kids pull the toys’ stretchy body parts. ‘Because we’re introducing a whole new category, we wanted to highlight the silly, gross and unscary nature of these toys,’ says Steve Tucker, director of marketing at Manley.

Focus groups of boys six to eight helped fine-tune the creative direction by looking at three initial storyboards last fall. ‘Kids were not honing in on the three elements that Manley wanted to communicate,’ says Tucker. ‘They told us to make the approach sillier, and they wanted to see more close-ups of the popping-out and limb-stretching features–they wanted to laugh.’ The reworked ‘Monster Hunters’ spot by creative director Steve Jarvis now reaches kids on a humorous level, a WOW! level and an overall play value level.

The spot opens with two boys on a monster hunt creeping down a dim hall with flashlights in hand. They see the shadow of two menacing characters on the wall and rush into the room in pursuit. The camera focuses on the Mummy and Frankenstein monsters, and the kids each grab one and go into battle mode–comical stretching and mock-fighting ensues. The climax comes when the kids squeeze the toys’ heads and the eyes and brains pop out.

‘We let the spot have all of the grossness with which boys often try to impress their friends and disgust their families,’ says Jarvis. In styling the commercial, the monsters were made funny-scary and not scary-scary, the intention being to empower kids so that they aren’t afraid of monsters. The kid mastery focus demonstrates the ability of children to control situations.

Manley is currently sifting through proposals from studios interested in developing screen spin-offs of the toys and from licensors interested in character licensing. Manley will start producing alien, knight and samurai Electronic Stretch Screamers this spring, as well as launching products with lower price points and advanced pop-out and electronic technology. The company plans to run a second campaign to push these new toys and is also in talks with a major fast-food chain for a Q4 2002 kids promotion.

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