Action Man is back in action, with a PR campaign that was boosted by the
fact that so many people have such fond childhood memories of him, says
Sara Stewart, director of the Wright Parnership.
I remember being told that Action Man is the only male who can genuinely
claim to be a full 12 inches.
He’s certainly got something going for him - in recent weeks he has
managed to turn a gaggle of hard-nosed, thirty-something hacks into
dewy-eyed, reminiscing school kids. The eagle-eyed, boy’s dolly has been
hitting the headlines because he’s turned 30 and the Mark Borkowski team
have milked the opportunity.
Action Man has a heritage unique to the UK which is a PR person’s dream
and one which gives the media a legitimate excuse to regress to
The recent Action Man campaign was based around the 30th anniversary
convention at Wembley. Organised by a die-hard AM collector, in
conjunction with the PR company, the event attracted some 1,600 visitors
to see and swap dolls of all description from footballers to space men.
Indeed, most of the coverage generated by the convention deferred to the
original doll and not the current model that has graced our toy shelves
since his relaunch a few years ago. The fondness factor for a plastic
hero remodelled to resemble Gladiators’ Trojan doesn’t seem to be as
The recent flurry of Action Man coverage has been superb. The Borkowski
collective are past-masters at approaching things from every conceivable
Any PR person would be over-the-moon to have been behind the cuttings
the convention has produced. But there’s the client to consider as well.
In these troubled times, it’s easier to follow the corporate line and
clients who take a punt are a rarity.
Much of the praise for the excellent coverage should also rest with
Sarah Howard of Hasbro - she has consistently taken a leap of faith with
her consultancy’s campaigns when it would have been easier to opt for
the falling off a log competition route.
My hope is that the corporate bods at Hasbro appreciate what Action Man
stands for here in the UK and avoid the trap of commercialising him to
the extent that he bears little resemblance to the original. He’s worth
so much more than a quick-sell in the next few years.
With careful handling, I can imagine Mark Borkowski, albeit in his
dotage, creating a campaign for the pension-claiming, denture-wearing
Action Man. I’m sure the 60-something journalists will still be writing
about him 30 years hence but will the kids who become the press of the
future remember him with such fondness?