Hasbro advertising & marketing assignments

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Hasbro spent almost 25 years as the #2 toymaker in the US behind Mattel, before overtaking its longtime and hard-pressed rival for the top spot during 2017. Globally, though, it still sits behind Danish rival LEGO. Hasbro lacks the iconic brand power of Mattel's Barbie or LEGO's bricks, although the huge success of a series of movies based around Hasbro's Transformers toy range have substantially boosted global sales of that particular brand. In general, Hasbro is stronger than Mattel in the boy's sector, and its other brands include GI Joe and his international counterpart Action Man. It also has a much larger portfolio of traditional board games, including perennial classics Monopoly, Trivial Pursuit, Twister and Jenga as well as Scrabble and Pictionary in North America. (Mattel has those games elsewhere). Other recent successes have been licensed products based on Marvel and Star Wars characters and My Little Pony and Littlest Pet Shop animal figures. Hasbro has the merchandising contract for most of Disney's biggest franchises; not just Marvel and Star Wars but also Disney Princesses (won from Mattel in 2015) and Pixar. It also has a longstanding alliance with Japanese manufacturer Takara-Tomy, the ultimate owner of Transformers. Hasbro has global rights outside Japan for other Tomy brands including Beyblade and Furby, and it acquired the Power Rangers brand from Saban Entertainment in 2018. Other key owned brands include Baby Alive dolls, card game Magic: The Gathering, Nerf action toys and Play-Doh modelling clay, but these are supported by an extensive portfolio of other toys and games. Encouraged by the success of Transformers, and its own past forays into entertainment content development, the group launched its own cable TV channel in the US in 2010, The Hub, a joint venture with Discovery. That experiment didn't work out and was reshaped in 2014, but the group still runs its own inhouse TV and movie production division under the Allspark banner. That side of the business was significantly enhanced in 2019 with a deal to acquire TV and movie content owner and producer Entertainment One. Performance from the main toys business has been under intense pressure for the past few years. Hasbro reported revenues of $4.6bn in 2018, down sharply on the year before, with net income of $220m. Brian Goldner is chairman & CEO.

Capsule checked 6th January 2020

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Adbrands Daily Update 23rd Aug 2019: US toymakers Mattel and Hasbro took steps into new areas of business with separate announcements today. Both companies are attempting to move away from the stagnating traditional toy market. Hasbro inked the purchase of Canadian content studio Entertainment One for $3.3bn. The most obvious attraction is eOne's stable of child-friendly character assets, of which the best known by far is Peppa Pig. However, eOne is also a highly regarded developer and distributor of TV and movie content, managing production partnerships with several independent producers. Most of its projects are aimed at grown-up audiences. Recent successes include last year's Oscar-winning 'Green Book' movie and TV series including 'The Rookie', 'Designated Survivor' and 'Ray Donovan'. The deal suggests a further aggressive push by Hasbro into character-based entertainment. Meanwhile, Mattel made its first move into adult gaming with the launch of mobile racing app Hot Wheels Infinite Loop. The game is free to download, and allows players to reach against each other using fantasy cars from the Hot Wheels racing cars range. It is the company's first self-published game.

Adbrands Daily Update 11th Feb 2019: Mattel's revenues continued to slide during 2018 despite a welcome rebound for long-suffering flagship brand Barbie, whose sales have increased for five consecutive quarters. Full year sales for Barbie of almost $1.1bn represented their highest-level since 2013. Sales of Hot Wheels cars were also at best-ever levels at $834m. However, most other lead brands suffered declines, and the liquidation of retailer Toys R Us left a significant dent on all toy manufacturers during the year. Reported net revenues fell 8% to $4.51bn. Net loss halved from the previous year to $531m, and operating profit was also still in the red as a result of severance and restructuring expenses. Hasbro was down even more sharply, though it retained a narrow lead over its longtime rival. Revenues slumped 12% to $4.58bn, and the company remains profitable with net income of $228m.

Adbrands Weekly Update 8th Feb 2018: Hasbro has officially overtaken Mattel to become the biggest US toymaker by annual sales, despite unexpected weakness in 4Q caused by a decline in the popularity of Star Wars tie-ins and disruption from the bankruptcy of Toys R Us. Revenues for the final quarter slipped 2%, but for the year, Hasbro delivered sales of $5.2bn, up 4%. By contrast, Mattel suffered another grim quarter, prompting an 11% slide in full year revenues to $4.88bn, the first time in nearly 15 years they have fallen below $5bn. The biggest problem for Mattel was a dramatic decline in performance in its smaller divisions. Sales of Barbie declined only 2% year-on-year but some other units performed far worse, with Fisher-Price down 11%, American Girl down 21% and Construction Toys by 29%. Girls Toys excluding Barbie plunged by a shocking 37%. The only positive note came from the Entertainment division housing Thomas The Tank Engine and other characters, where revenues rose 12% year-on-year. There was a similar disparity between the two companies on the bottom line. Tax reforms prompted a near-$300m charge for Hasbro in the final quarter, resulting in a 26% slide in net earnings to $397m. However EBITDA excluding exceptionals was up 12% year-on-year. Mattel also took took a big hit from tax reforms and Toys R Us, but even without those factors gross profit margin was slashed by almost 50%, resulting in a net loss of over $1.05bn. Even without exceptionals the company reported negative EBITDA, after a strong positive the year before.

Adbrands Weekly Update 16th Nov 2017: Oh, the indignity of it. One-time leader in the global toy industry Mattel has received a takeover approach from US rival Hasbro, which has risen from third place to the current #1. Mattel's performance has been in steep decline over the past two years as sales of long-time cornerstone Barbie slump, with the result that its market cap of $5bn is now less than half Hasbro's $11.4bn. No details of the talks were disclosed, and any deal would be subjected to considerable regulatory scrutiny. However, the toy landscape has changed dramatically since the last time such a merger was discussed two decades ago. Mattel offered to acquire then-struggling Hasbro in the 1990s, but was rebuffed. Since then, with the notable exception of LEGO, most traditional toymakers have seen a sharp decline in their sales as kids have transferred their affections to high-tech products like computer games and smartphones. Manufacturers' woes have been exacerbated by the decline of specialist retailers, such as Toys R Us, which filed for bankruptcy earlier this year. Mattel now risks losing part or all of the $135m it is owed by Toys R Us, while Hasbro's debt is less than half that sum. A combined Hasbro-Mattel would pose an challenge for regulators, nonetheless, with around a third of the highly fragmented US market in traditional toys. In three segments of model vehicles, dolls and action figures it would have more than 50% share. We shall see how this plays out.

Adbrands Weekly Update 27th Apr 2017: In a shock turnaround, Mattel was overtaken as the world's biggest toymaker by longtime rival Hasbro following a grim set of results for 1Q. Mattel's sales fell by 15% to $815m, with declines across all divisions, even at constant exchange rates. Sales of key brands Barbie and Fisher-Price fell by 13% and 9% respectively, while Entertainment and Other Girls' Toys plunged by more than a quarter and more than a third. The newly created Construction and Arts & Craft division - designed to compete with Lego - suffered a shock 38% drop. That resulted in a net loss for the quarter of $113m. By contrast, Hasbro's revenues for the quarter were up by 2% to $850m as a result of strong gains in entertainment toys and board games.

Adbrands Weekly Update 23rd Mar 2017: Hasbro outraged some Monopoly purists (and delighted others) with an update of the player tokens for new editions of the hugely popular game. From August this year, the thimble and boot tokens used since the game first launched in 1935 will disappear, along with the wheelbarrow, introduced in 1950. In their place will be a rubber ducky, a penguin and a T-Rex dinosaur. These were selected by consumers in an online poll across 146 countries. Players were asked to vote for their favourites from a selection of existing pieces and potential new contenders. A total of 4.3m votes were cast. The existing Scottie dog got more votes than any other piece, with the new T-Rex not far behind.

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