The Big Pitch: Was the announcement to discontinue Beanie Babies a PR boon or blunder?

Diana Haytko

Diana Haytko

Diana Haytko

Texas Christian University, Fort Worth, TX

I truly believe that TY will never pull Beanie Babies off the market,

but I do believe that they will retire all 1999 product at the end of

the year. There are several reasons why this is a good move. First,

while demand has skyrocketed in Japan with the intro of Beanie Babies,

it has leveled off here in the U.S. In fact, new issues of Beanie Babies

appear on eBay the same day that they are launched, meaning that there

are no longer long lines at retail stores. In addition, TY has hired

CYRK, an extremely successful global marketing firm, who launched the

Teenie Beanie Baby promotion through McDonald’s. I have no doubt that

CYRK and TY have plans for an entire TY2000 line of new Beanie Baby

products. TY has also developed the Beanie Baby Official Collector’s

Club. Clearly, they would have not gone through with this if the product

line was going to disappear.

All in all, the announcement was a very smart marketing move.

Michael Kempner

The MWW Group, New York

TY has long been a company to break the rules and go against

conventional wisdom. From being elusive with basic company information

to being downright secretive with regard to distribution practices, TY

has consistently added to its mystique and success with every new

communications and marketing twist. This discontinuation announcement,

timed against both the softening retail and auction markets for their

product and the meteoric rise of Pokemon, was simply brilliant. With a

few well-written sentences, Beanie Babies leapt from old news to a

front-page crisis in major news outlets across the country, and will be

well-positioned and top-of-mind as the holiday toy season gets under


Michael King

MAXWorldwide, Herndon, VA

It’s just another new day at TY: smart brand management, superb

marketing and good management of supply and demand. Ty Warner

understands not only the value of his brand, but more importantly the

math of supply and demand.

He controls supply, so his issue will always remain the creation of


The same strategy is now being played out on the Internet where a global

search for a hard-to-find Beanie can now connect the buyer with dozens

of potential sellers. If you look at the ’Beanie Index’ at, it would appear that this increase in supply

has devalued your average Beanie by more than 35% - clear evidence of


So then how would you stimulate demand and limit supply? Maybe something

crazy like retiring all the current characters, but this time without

promise of a new generation. Beanie lovers would panic, collectors would

be rioting at the mall in search of the last Beanie Baby - it would be


Howard J. Rankin

Author, ’Power Talk: The Art of Effective Communication’

Hilton Head, SC

The whole Beanie campaign has been brilliantly orchestrated. Ty Warner

has used one of the seven fundamental human motivators - scarcity and

fear of loss - to reinvigorate the potential market for Beanie


In the wake of the announcement, there has been scarcity of information,

scarcity of product and now the ultimate scarcity: the retirement of all

Beanie Babies for the immediate future. The only way that TY could end

the Beanie campaign is to deliver the ultimate scarcity blow while

interest was still high enough to make the fear of loss meaningful. In

that sense, the move was an incredible PR ploy

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