Lionel Trains taps Shift as it targets young consumers

NEW YORK: Model train company Lionel Trains has selected Shift Communications as its first AOR for PR and social media as it creates a new digital strategy and engages younger generations.

NEW YORK: Model train company Lionel Trains has selected Shift Communications as its first AOR for PR and social media as it creates a new digital strategy and engages younger generations.

The 113-year-old company hired Shift following an RFP process involving three agencies, said Peter Burgess, SVP of marketing for Lionel Trains. He declined to name the other firms in the review.

Prior to bringing on Shift, Lionel only worked with agencies during the fourth quarter of each year, which is the company's busiest sales time, Burgess said.

Lionel chose Shift because of its knowledge of the company and of the challenges it faces in breaking through to younger demographics, Burgess said. Tony Bordon, a digital and brand strategy consultant for Lionel, added that the company also selected Shift for its expertise in consumer, social media, and digital.

The firm is tasked with engaging a “younger audience and making trains a little more top of mind than they currently are,” Burgess said.

Later this summer, Lionel will launch its first digital iPad gaming app called Battle Train, which will target its key demographic of seven- to 12-year-old boys. Shift will promote the free app to consumer and trade media, as well as to bloggers and other influencers.

The agency will also work on social media efforts to help Lionel “strengthen relationships in a more direct way” with consumers, Burgess said.

Around the same time as the app launch, Lionel will unveil a content hub, where it will aggregate and curate popular online content about trains into different categories, such as nostalgia or music, Bordon said. The platform, which will coincide with the launch of Lionel's revamped website, will include a section where younger audiences can build trains online.

In the fourth quarter, Lionel will release a collection of ornaments. Shift will help promote the new products to consumers and the press.

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