November 25, 2015

In the News: Peek-A-Boos

Adweek reports that Ty Inc., the creator of Beanie Babies, just made its first-ever TV spot for a new line of products:

The new plush toys, called Peek-A-Boos, show you how completely—some might say how depressingly—smartphones have come to dominate children's play. The Peek-A-Boos aren't so much toys as toy holders. They're designed to hold phones upright so kids can play on them more easily. (They also have a microfiber bottom that doubles as a screen cleaner.)

The commercial is from Leo Burnett and is noted for its "stick-in-your-head tune ... that features the product name being repeated over and over." You can watch/listen here.

I have a few observations. First, I don't understand why Ty would wait until now to jump into the plush space? As the article reminds us, "Beanie Babies, introduced in 1991, were once the hottest toys in the world." So the original plush-toy master sat back and watched our industry make millions and millions of dollars in their space, completely saturating the market, and then decided to jump in? I know traditional companies move slow, but that's glacial. Pillow Pets presented as a monster item in 2010.

Maybe the strategists at Ty think that now the market has cleared and is ready for them. If so, I disagree with them. From what I'm seeing and hearing, we're at the shallow end of the 'long tail' with most major retailers pretty sour on the category.

Second, this product combines the No. 1 (phone/tablet accessories) and No. 2 (plush toys) worst categories for DRTV. Of course Ty is going to run a traditional brand advertising campaign and (one assumes) get placement outside of our areas of the store. They also have a very cheap, impulse price and kids aren't the main reason phone accessories fail. Still, the information isn't worthless. I've already covered the situation with plush, and the main reason phone accessories fail is because the category is super-crowded.

Third, this goes to show that copying isn't unique to our industry. We just perfected it. That is, there is nothing original about this product or creative. In fact, it borrows heavily from what has already been done by DRTV players. The "stick-in-your-head tune" that repeats the product name "over and over"? Been there, done that. Clever holders for your phone? We have 20. Even the melody to their song isn't original. It did immediately stick in my head -- to the point where I started humming it shortly after hearing it. Then I realized what I was really humming was Missy Elliot's "Get Ur Freak On."

All of that said, the product is simple, inexpensive and should have enough support to sell fairly well. There's just nothing special about it from our perspective.

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