November 5, 1984, Eastern Edition
Leisure Sector Gives Madison Ave. Big Xmas Gift
BYLINE: By Amy Saltzman, Bob Peischel, Jack Feuer, Betsy Sharkey, Paul Farhi, Dottie Enirco and Fran Brock
LENGTH: 647 words
DATELINE: NEW YORK
Markers of the two products expected to be the holidays’ best-sellers this year aren’t spending one red cent on advertising. But Madison Avenue has no reason to lose its Christmas spirit.
Although Coleco’s Cabbage Patch Kids and Selchow & Righter’s Trivial Pursuit, both holdovers from last Christmas, will not advertise because demand for both remains higher than supply, the toy industry as a whole could still prove to be one of the biggest ad spenders in the coming weeks.
Several Trivial Pursuit offshoots are expected to provide feisty competition for the No. 2 game spot with relatively big ad budgets, and Hasbro and Tonka will be fighting it out in the new transformable-toy-robot category with hefty network-TV spending.
“Toy sales should be extremely strong this season. The momentum has started and should continue,” said Linda Kristiansen, an analyst at PaineWebber Group. In general, she said that despite a slowing down of the economy and somewhat softer sales than last year, Christmas sales should be strong starting in late November.
Among the Trivial Pursuit imitators is Parker Brothers’ People Weekly (as in People magazine), which breaks a $1-million network TV campaign this week with the themeline “The Trivia Game With Personality.” Others with campaigns expected to be just as big are Milton Bradley’s Ripley’s Believe It or Not and Lakeside’s Entertainment Tonight: The Trivia Game.
“There is no question that Trival Pursuit is dominant. But a lot of people will pick up these other games when they can’t find Trivial Pursuit,” said Skip Weldon, assistant account manager at HBM/Creamer, Boston, agency for People Weekly.
The hot new item for the ‘84 holiday season appears to be the transformable robot toys from Hasbro (Transformers) and Tonka (Go Bots), which will heat up their marketing battle during the next several weeks.
Both are expected to spend more than 50 percent of their $8-million ad budgets on network campaigns. They say they are winning what is essentially a two-horse race in the brand new transformable toy category. Each claims to have received orders in the $85-million range for their action robot figures that fold into various shapes.
Although toy performance in the Christmas marketplace is always fun to watch, the really big ad spending this year will be for VCRs. VCR penetration has reached 14 percent – well past what is needed to spark mass-market demand. Since VCR prices have dropped over the last year, this Christmas could be the first major mass-merchandising test for the category, with its biggest advertising spending to date.
One of those to beat will be RCA, which broke a $30-million campaign in September for its VCRs and color TVs. The campaign, handled by Leo Burnett/Chicago, includes seven commercials – three for VCRs and four for the color TVs.
Some other relatively big spenders include Sanyo, which this month will break a $2-million spot TV and magazine effort, created by DYR, Los Angeles, for its Beta HiFi VCR; and Toshiba America, whose $1-million campaign will include a new spot for its VS443 Beta HiFi VCR,from Calet, Hirsch & Spector, New York.
Computer-product spending, including soft-ware advertising, is expected to be well over $100 million during the next two months, by far the largest spending in the industry’s short history. The leaders in the personal-computer category will be IBM and Apple, with Commodore a close third. Except for a new print promotion for the Apple Macintosh, most companies are sticking with current campaigns. Although Atari deluged the air waves with Alan Alda commercials during last year’s holiday season, the company is not expected to make a big Christmas push this year as it works on revamping its product line.
– with Bob Peischel, Jack Feuer, Betsy Sharkey, Paul Farhi, Dottie Enrico and Fran Brock
GRAPHIC: Advertisement, New print promotion.
Copyright 1984 A/S/M Communications, Inc.