Category Archives: Owned Media

The Digital & Social Era: Unlocking Brand Value in a Nanosecond


Monopoly, Scrabble, Mr. Potato Head, G.I. Joe, Nerf, Little Pony, Transformers.  These are only a few of the brands we are all growing old with, and are also seeing our children grow up with. They are all household names that have an extensive legacy and franchise around the world. They’re all Hasbro brands.

While many brand managers often think of extending a brand in terms of new product in the physical sense, the digital and social era offers the opportunity to transform brands into new media properties in ways that unlock the brand’s legacy. The age of new media offers up the chance to pull brands literally “out of the vault” and make them fresh again by relaunching them in an entirely new format.

Hasbro is a company that not only manufactures and distributes toys and games; it is an entertainment company that now competes with the likes of Disney. For example, one of the largest and most successful movie franchises is Transformers. Introduced in the mid-1980s, Transformers was a toy line that featured parts that can be shifted to change from a vehicle into a robot action figure and back again. A number of spin-offs followed, including an animated television series.

In 2007, a live-action movie, under sponsorship of Steven Spielberg, was released, with the latest installment to be released this summer. Around the brand is a vast array of media, including video games, a website, online games, TV commercials, a Facebook community, books, gear and all sorts of toys. Yes, there are apps for iPhone – in 3D no less – that include puzzles.

Not only has Hasbro become a force in the movie industry, it also is a direct investor in television having recently launched The Hub channel in the U.S. in partnership with Discovery Channel whereby the Discovery Kids platform was renamed The Hub. In Canada, Corus Entertainment and Hasbro Studios have come together to distribute Hasbro brands across the various Corus kids television platforms, such as Treehouse, the TV home of My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic (with HD episodes available on iTunes).

What makes the discussion even more compelling is how Hasbro has been able to artfully blend instinct with formal management process. I say this because the toy business, like fashion, has for many years been built on having a nose for what’s hot and what’s not. In the age of digital, so much is in the moment that risk and reward take on much shorter cycles, thereby requiring a balance between management discipline and entrepreneurial behaviour. As Michael Hogg, President of Hasbro Canada, says: “The toy business is like packaged goods with your hair on fire,” in that much of the action is in the moment, about today. This makes me think of the phrase Carpe Diem – on steroids.

Underlying this “360 degree” approach to defining the media mix is the foundational belief that there is also a value chain with regard to the media platforms. In Hasbro’s case, TV is the anchor to build brand awareness in key segments, whereby other media take on a supporting promotional role to augment consumer engagement.

In the days of traditional media, there was much talk about unlocking ‘incremental brand value’ by building out line extensions and adding ancillary products. In the era of digital and social media, brand value can be unlocked in an exponential way by developing the optimal media mix and devising the right formats for each brand.

It also means sticking to the fundamental questions: what are the demographics, who are the buyers, what are the right media choices and how do we build the trust factor into everything we do? The latter is most important especially when engaging audiences of ‘mommy bloggers’ who have valuable opinions about product safety, play value and ideas for innovation.

It also requires a change in mindset since metrics are not always conveniently at hand. In fact, it may be advantageous by allowing managers to take risk by investing in more trials, seeing what works through iteration and then building metrics that support additional investments for a calculated payoff.

For Hasbro, one formula that continues to prove itself in effect leads the consumer through the channels. Television is the anchor for certain target segments for brand building; websites are ideal for promotional activity and driving consumers to the retail store.

So let me end with a few more Hasbro brands that you may well recognize: Twister, Battleship, Yahtzee, Risk, Tinker Toy, Play-Doh, Sorry! and Easy Bake. And yes, there are and will be more apps.

– Ted Morris, 4ScreensMedia


Media Integration: The Tradigital Mix

This post originally appeared in the Association of Canadian Advertisers newsletter, The ACA Edge:

I was recently reading Golf Magazine, a publication of the Time Inc. Sports Group, which includes Sports Illustrated amongst its media assets. Golf Magazine serves as a hub, trigger or catalyst for viewing relevant content through a range of media types and other brand platforms. Here’s why:

There is a section in Golf Magazine called “Your Game” which is an instructional piece made up of various illustrations, stats and descriptive text on, for example, how to improve putting from short distances. In the bottom left corner of the page, there is a pointer to the magazine’s website at  where there is an online video of the same lesson featuring additional information about the putting process. has a link to Twitter (@si_golf). Videos are featured on YouTube, Golf Magazine’s channel:

At , there are links to various sites related to events on the PGA pro tour, content related to golf travel, course ratings, opinions and reviews to name but a few of the possibilities. In the current issue of Golf Magazine, there is even a new program that brings it together with SI Golf and to enable the audience to “See, Try, Buy” the latest in golf equipment with links to OEMs and dealers. Many advertisers in Golf Magazine have links to ‘freemium’ social network platforms – Facebook, Twitter and YouTube – offering additional product content.

Then there are those who write for Golf Magazine who are also commentators on television networks that broadcast golf such as CBS and NBC. It goes without saying that many PGA pros are featured throughout all of the golf media choices. Writers and PGA pros (some 85 are on Twitter) contribute content. Readers and web viewers alike also post their opinions often indicative of topics that drive engagement. There are several blogs:

Golf Magazine is a good illustration of how the “Tradigital” media mix can provide a rich experience through a host of choices for accessing relevant content by integrating traditional and new media. This transformation of brands to a broad media mix reflects the adoption of a new business model that optimizes traditional and new media in order to bring about the right mix for the audience –paid, owned, sold, earned. CMO’s should find this inspiring. It’s not really complicated. Get started, try things out, see what works and like a recipe, add to the media mix until it’s just right.

– Ted Morris, 4ScreensMedia

Hasbro: From Manufacturing to Media Powerhouse

Hasbro is no longer just about Mr. Potato Head. It is a company that has been able to unlock many brands from the vault. These brands have now become instrumental in transforming Hasbro into a media powerhouse – think Transformers, G.I. Joe and Star Wars. Movies. Very successful movies. Think Monopoly going mobile.

Hasbro will soon be launching hub, “a new TV channel for kids and families”. Here’s the point: in the past 5 years, Hasbro has delivered consistent growth in revenues, profit and stock growth. The proof is in the return on investment – just check Hasbro’s investor relations page:

Stay tuned.

– Ted Morris, 4ScreensMedia