There was no toying around on Tuesday in Cannes as execs from across the globe heard president and CEO of toy and game powerhouse Hasbro Brian Goldner give a MIPCOM keynote focusing on "Becoming a Branded Play Company."
Hasbro's current big screen blockbuster "Transformers" is a fitting metaphor for the company that has transformed itself from a toy company to a $4 billion leader in family entertainment.
Goldner took audience members on a time travel trip from Hasbro's first branded entertainment, a televised Mr. Potatohead commercial in 1952, to its acquisition of Milton Bradley in the 1980s to become a billion-dollar company and then reinventing its brands in the 1990s and today.
"Brands don't get tired. People get tired," Goldner said of Habro's need to constantly reinvent itself as a global brand.
The toy and game company is launching the "Littlest Pet Shop" online in the form of an interactive website, Goldner announced Tuesday morning at the keynote. The site will launch in the U.S. this week, then roll out to international territories in the coming months. Hasbro also plans to launch a new Nerf game this month. "Our goal is to inspire the human need for play [...] over and over again," Goldner said. He added: "It's a consumer-on-demand society."
Hasbro isn't taking on the industry alone -- the toy giant has partnered with Discovery Communications for a joint venture and with Electronic Arts, giving the publisher exclusive world rights to cross-platform digital games including mobile, Internet, PC and consoles, based upon Hasbro's properties.
Hasbro currently boasts six of the top 10 iphone games apps and four of the top 20 games on the Pogo online gaming space.
Hasbro's flagship brands, which also include Monopoly, Trivial Pursuit, Playskool and My Little Pony, are worldwide hits across all platforms and have changed the way consumers structure their leisure time. Goldner pointed out that half of children's leisure time is spent on entertainment. Hasbro has chosen to fill this leisure time with its own brand of cross-platform entertainment and has transformed itself into a branded play company" because it's what the consumer wants," Goldner said.
The company's subsidiary Hasbro Studios is also aggressively taking on the big screen with several films based on Hasbro properties in various stages of development. The "Transformers" feature film grossed $700 million worldwide in 2007, and this summer's releases "Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen" and "G.I. Joe: The Rise of the Cobra" were also huge boxoffice successes. "You have to have great stories and great characters first and foremost. What you do with them is up to you," Goldner said of the move from toy to theater. Hasbro Studios will focus on online, TV, digital and film and will develop programs based on Hasbro brands in addition to original content. "We are open for business," Goldner said.