Today’s toy market is highly competitive. To obtain a bigger piece of the $22 billion toy
business, manufacturer Summit Toy launched an extensive expansion of its Backyard Safari
Outfitters brand in 2010. Designed to encourage active outdoor play, the line equips children
age 5 and up with an array of fun and colorful gear to help them get up-close and personal with
nature -- right in their own backyard. Summit’s goal in creating an array of new products for the line was to carve out – and dominate--- a new “nature play” niche within the toy industry that would capture the attention of retailers and consumers alike. The company’s key consumer target: moms.
Our objectives for the program were to:
•?Create top-of-mind awareness of and excitement about Backyard Safari Outfitters
•?Position Backyard Safari Outfitters as the must have toy for creative, active play
•?Establish awareness of the new “nature play” category for toys
Child’s Play Communications launched a multi-faceted program that connected Backyard Safari
Outfitters with moms by tapping directly into the messages our research showed moms care about now, specifically:
•? Learning through play. Toys are fun! And more importantly, the right
toys can teach children critical developmental and social skills during play.
•?The need for more physical activity among children. With childhood obesity rates on the
rise, the importance of outside, active play for health and fitness is more essential than
ever for kids.
The carefully crafted program focused not just on traditional media, but also on the
communications channel where moms really live today -- social media.
Child’s Play Communications drafted long lead and short lead press materials to position
Backyard Safari Outfitters as the toy that helps kids learn, stay fit and have fun all at the same
time. The agency weaved these messages into every pitch, saturating the media outlets read
by moms. We sent out a series of constant, timely pitches that tapped into an array of story
•?New product news
•?Product round-up stories
•?Seasonal stories (summer, holiday and back to school)
•?Stories based on breaking news (e.g., research announcements)
•?Holiday gift guides stories
•?Health and fitness stories
In addition, the agency submitted Backyard Safari Outfitters to all toy award competitions, to
build endorsement leading to credibility, for media stories.
According to a 2010 study conducted by Child’s Play, 79% of moms use social media and of
that number, about 1 in 4 have bought a product for their child based on information provided in
that space. Significantly, according to our research, toys and games were the second most
popular category among moms who purchased as a result of a social media recommendation,
with 34% buying. (35% purchased children’s apparel.)
With that in mind, Child’s Play Communications pursued a significant social media presence for
Backyard Safari Outfitters, through an array of tactics. Keeping moms top of mind, the agency:
•?Tapped into the world of mommy bloggers via Team Mom, Child’s Play
Communications’ proprietary, award-winning network of mom bloggers, who have agreed to post about our clients products on a regular basis. These bloggers are not paid for their reviews;
instead we offer them the opportunity to be the first on their virtual block to have access
to new products and to share that information with their online community. Team Mom
members not only post reviews, but typically include photos and even videos of their
children interacting with the products. The 200+ members of the network typically reach
more than 1 million readers.
•?Created and maintained the brand’s first-ever corporate Facebook and Twitter accounts.
Child’s Play kept these platforms active with tips, videos, giveaways, product news and
links to traditional and online recommendations, and set the stage for engaged moms to
communicate directly with the brand. The agency was also responsible for monitoring
and responding to Facebook and Twitter comments from consumers.
•?Developed and co-hosted a Twitter Party, during which we presented ideas for keeping
kids active, while discussing the Backyard Safari Outfitters line.
•?Coordinated the brand’s participation in three special social media events created by
Child’s Play. First were the Chicago and Los Angeles Bloggers Brunches. Here,
Backyard Safari Outfitters was displayed and demonstrated to a select group of bloggers
in an intimate atmosphere conducive to networking and forming relationships. This was
followed by a third event in New York City, Dinner’s On Us. The agency made this
blogger event special by using the occasion to host the first annual Bloganthropy
Awards, which recognized mom bloggers who used their blogs to do good. The event
was held the evening before BlogHer, the largest annual conference for women
bloggers, in order to generate attendance among bloggers from around the country who
were in town for that conference.
Child’s Play Communications generated 240 placements and 31,203,245 impressions for Backyard Safari Outfitters in 2010 – including two Today Show placements within the space of 2 months. Other solid targeted placements included major-market regional parenting magazines (Colorado Parents, San Diego Family), top local newspapers (Newsday, Sacramento Bee), local TV (Fox Boston, Good Day Columbus), influential web sites (ParentsConnect.com) and more than 180 mom blogs (BostonMamas, MyDFWMommy). The Twitter Party alone reached over 53,000 people and garnered more than 1,200 tweets.
According to Summit, the PR efforts have had a dramatic effect. “The Backyard Safari Outfitters
brand has increased 500% in revenue in 2010, having received overwhelming support from
educators and mom bloggers,” said Melvin Wells, vice president-sales. “This has made it an
easy brand for buyers to embrace and sell. Specifically, at Walmart and TRU, the shelf space
and item count has grown four-fold.”