CAMPAIGNS: JUDGE AND JURY; He’s 30, but everybody still wants a piece of the Action Man

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.

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

childhood.



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

strong.



The recent flurry of Action Man coverage has been superb. The Borkowski

collective are past-masters at approaching things from every conceivable

angle.



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?



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