Cooler Than Cool: Hasbro's Hidden Room

Hasbro has forged more than 20 new partnerships that push the parameters of hip new licensed products and the perception of itsbrands in the marketplace.

April 6, 2018

Cooler Than Cool: Hasbro's Hidden Room

In an effort to inspire greater creativity and innovation for its brands, Hasbro has established an internal team to pursue new product collaborations that go beyond the traditional extensions.

The cool and hip products born of this effort were unveiled at New York's Toy Fair last February in a separate display within the Hasbro showroom, appropriately named The Hidden Room. In this small, tight space, Hasbro exclusively previewed more than two dozen brand extensions with various artists, designers and high-end licensees that presented a new take on Hasbro's franchises from a very different perspective that included one-of-a-kind items.

This initiative has since been further expanded to become a global program spearheaded by Hasbro's senior vice president of global licensing, Simon Waters.

"One of the areas we have focused on is the power of tastemakers for driving pop culture relevance," Waters says. "We established a very small hot house group to partner with the right kinds of brands, the

right kinds of medians, the right distribution channels and to be very selective so that we could curate product that wouldn't necessarily sell lots, but would put us in great stead with the right kind of tastemakers."

These innovative partnerships include Monopoly and Crooks & Castles for a collector's edition board game; My Little Pony and Acid Free Gallery for a limited edition artist print; G.I. Joe and Look/See for sunglasses; Transformers and Illest for a RWB Pandora One snowboard; Transformers and 686 for Optimus Prime and Stance TF snowboard jackets; G.I. Joe and Electric for snowboard goggles; Nerf and Little Gifts for Nerf Dog pet toys; Transformers and Under Armour for Bumblebee and Drift compression shirts; Transformers and Lincoln Park for a New Era cap and a Soundwave toy and t-shirt; My Little Pony and Shwings for Rainbow Dash show accessories; Mr. Potato Head and David Flores for a painting figure; Monopoly and Alex and Ani for charm bangles; Transformers and Osiris for Optimus Prime and Bumblebee sneakers; and Transformers and Shredders for an Optimus Prime knit sweater.

Waters says that The Hidden Room project has been a very organic process and that it has helped Hasbro's efforts not only to expand the audience of its franchises, but also to enhance their potential and position among major global retailers.

"Young kids are seeing the products and thinking they are cool, while Millennials have a retro reaction seeing brands that they grew up with translated in a new way," points out Waters. "We always lead our retail discussions with how current and relevant our brands are, and we show these products as examples of how creative you can be. We open their eyes to potential and reinforce that our franchises have a deep consumer loyalty that they can tap into."

Many of The Hidden Room deals are limited edition and not always renewed, even if they are successful and sell-through quickly.

"We will continue to bring in really hot new partners to elevate our status in pop culture and elevate those brands," says Waters. "We allow our partners a lot of license as to how they design and develop and we want them to explore and take risks."

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