Hasbro is traditionally the #2 toymaker in the US behind Mattel but looks set to overtake its longtime rival during 2017. It lacks the iconic brand power of Mattel's Barbie or its Danish rival's Lego bricks, although the huge success of four (and counting) 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 and Trivial Pursuit. Other recent successes have been licensed products based on Marvel and Star Wars characters and My Little Pony and Littlest Pet Shop animal figures. 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.
Selected Hasbro advertising
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|Wizards of the Coast||Hasbro Star Wars|
|Mr Potato Head||Avalon Hill Games|
|Tiger Electronics||Secret Central|
|Playskool||My Little Pony|
|Poo-Chi||Get Together Games|
|Hit Clips||Family Game Night|
|My First Games||Atari|
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.
Adbrands Weekly Update 9th February 2017: In a reversal of fortunes that would once have seemed impossible, America's traditional #2 toymaker could be on course to unseat arch-rival Mattel. Boosted by its capture of the prized Disney Princesses franchise from the larger company, Hasbro's revenues soared by 13% in 2016, topping $5.0bn for the first time in the company's history. Meanwhile Mattel slumped 4% to a seven-year low of $5.5bn. Similar performance in the current year would give Hasbro the lead. That's already happened on the bottom line, with Hasbro's net income up 11% to $533m, against Mattel's $318m. Hasbro's performance in 2017 will depend not just on the continued growth of Disney Princesses, but also another sizeable boost from the forthcoming Transformers movie, for which the company holds toy rights.
Adbrands Weekly Update 11th Feb 2016: According to Bloomberg, US toymakers Mattel and Hasbro are in informal talks over a merger. Ironically, smaller Hasbro is emerging as the stronger of the two longtime competitors. Its long-running licensing arrangement for Star Wars merchandise boosted performance for last year, in a marked contrast to its larger rival. Though it remains the #2 US toymaker by revenues, Hasbro overtook Mattel in profitability. Even with the headwinds of currency fluctuation, Hasbro reported a 4% increase in revenues to $4.45bn, a company record. At constant rates the increase would have been 13%. That included a 35% leap in sales of boys' toys, almost entirely as a result of Star Wars-related items. Disney, it its own 1Q results this week, disclosed that Star Wars merchandise had generated retail sales of $3bn worldwide during the quarter. Hasbro gets only part of that: CEO Brian Goldner said the company's Star Wars-related sales were "very similar" to the roughly $500m the company generated in 2005 when the last installment of the movie series was released. No doubt, there will be a similar lift in the current and future years tied in to home entertainment and future movie releases. Hasbro's net earnings rose 8% to $452m. Mattel previously reported a 5% slide in revenues to $5.7bn and a 26% slump in earnings to $369m.
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