Chris Byrne, president of Byrne Communications, digs into consumer products programs inspired by food and beverage brands to see which companies jumped on the bandwagon, and whether or not it will leave a good taste in customers’ mouths.
SOUR It’s not uncommon to see popular characters from kids content appear on food packaging like granola bars or juice boxes, but a new trend is seeing food and beverage companies launch toy lines inspired by their edible brands. Earlier this year, Wisconsin-based Impact Confections partnered with Pennsylvania’s Kangaru to launch scented stationery inspired by the sour candy brand Warheads (pictured below). The range of stationery and art materials is designed to invoke the candy’s colors and flavors, through a licensing deal brokered by Alita’s Brand Bar and Lisa Marks Associates.
SWEET “Roleplaying ‘grocery store’ or ‘restaurant’ is a classic play pattern for kids,” says Byrne. “But looking at food itself as the inspiration for toys is a really fun way to approach a consumer products program. That means you’re looking at the property more like a lifestyle brand, rather than a food brand.”
SPICY And while most toy ranges rely on classic play patterns or storylines from TV series or films to inspire items, offerings based on food brands need to think outside the box when it comes to design. “What kinds of categories you pursue really depends on the essence of the brand,” Byrne says. “With a brand like Skittles, for example, it’s obvious that you would focus on colors and play off of the ‘Taste the rainbow’ tagline.”
SALTY Ravensburger’s Taco Bell Party Pack Card Game (pictured at top) plays on the restaurant’s mix-and-match meal offerings. Available for US$16.99 starting this month, the card game is designed for two to six people ages eight and up, and it challenges players to collect Taco Bell food items to feed their “crew.” Once players have satisfied their crew’s specific cravings, they receive a point in the form of a “crave” chip. Once all the chips have been collected, the player with the most points wins.
CHEWY In 2020, Jakks Pacific inked a global multi-year licensing deal to launch toys inspired by Haribo Group’s candy products. Jakks will manufacture, market and distribute these collectibles and activities across North America and EMEA. Its range includes items based on the German confectioner’s Goldbears (pictured below), Twin Snakes and Happy-Cola brands. The first products are set to hit shelves in August, and additional extensions, including figures and plush, are in the works.
CRUNCHY “The power of a brand is in its ability to engage with people. This trend means kids will be engaging with these food brands outside of mealtime,” Byrne says. As more and more kids literally play with their food, it’s an opportunity for these companies to expand their reach from the dinner table to the toy box. But not every food item is created equally, he says—so don’t expect brussels sprouts to lead the next big toy line.