CAMPAIGNS: Turtles return to shops with sell-out toys - Consumer PR

Client: Vivid Imaginations PR Team: Norton & Company Marketing Communications Campaign: Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Toys Timescale: July 2003-ongoing Budget: Understood to be between £1,000 and £5,000

Ten years after returning to the sewers, the 1980s hit toys Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles have been relaunched and are tipped to be a top ten stocking filler this Christmas.

The crime-busting 'heroes in a half shell' toys were relaunched in the UK by toy company Vivid Imaginations in July, at the same time as the animated TV series was aired on GMTV, and later by Fox Kids during October half term.

Objectives

To gain widespread consumer media coverage in July, when the toys would be available in the shops. To sustain consumer awareness of the action figures, role play sets and playsets during the key Christmas toy buying period.

Strategy and Plan

The first stage of the campaign began in July, when Norton & Company worked alongside the GMTV press office to promote the new TV series through children's press and TV listings, prior to the toys being spun off in the shops.

Shortly after the series began airing, the PR effort shifted to national, regional and lifestyle press to generate nostalgic interest from young parents who might have owned a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle in the 1980s.

Personality profiles of the four Turtle characters - Leonardo, Raphael, Donatello and Michaelangelo - were used as human interest angles.

On 24 September, the British Association of Toy Retailers (BATR) released its predictions for the top ten best-selling toys this Christmas, and the Turtles were included.

This fuelled huge coverage of the Turtles a few weeks before Norton & Company began working with Fox Kids for its airing of the TV series during October half term.

The joint campaign then targeted media Christmas gift guides and shopping features to further promote the range for Christmas.

Measurement and Evaluation

So far, more than 300 press stories have been generated by the campaign, with broadcast coverage including ITN, GMTV, Sky News, BBC Breakfast and Newsround, as well as Radio 1, 2, 4, and Five Live.

Results

October sales of the toys have increased by 200 per cent over September, and major retail outlets are understood to be selling out of the action figures.

The majority of coverage to date has been positive about the new range of Turtle toys, focusing primarily on how popular they are expected to be following BATR's prediction.

Toy News publisher Stuart Dinsey praised the PR campaign for its positioning of the remodelled and relaunched toys.

'They managed very successfully to maximise the interest levels in the return of the brand without being po-faced,' said Dinsey. 'They jolted the memory of many twenty- and thirtysomethings, saying "Yes, they're back", rather than just saying "retro is back", which worked very well.'

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