Spin Master on Fan-First Brand Extension

License Global speaks with Jeremy Tucker, executive vice president, global chief marketing officer, Spin Master, to learn more about building brands and exploring new places to play.

Ben Roberts, Content Director

May 1, 2024

5 Min Read
Unicorn Academy toys by Spin Master
Unicorn Academy toysSpin Master

At a Glance

  • How the Concept of “Play” has Changed
  • Changing the Way We Speak with Audiences to Build Brands
  • Remaining Creative and Maintaining Authenticity

License Global: How has the concept of “play” changed, and how would you describe it today?

Jeremy Tucker: Play is not going away and more and more research is confirming the power of play and its benefits. Play is essential for sparking creativity, supporting social and emotional development and promoting confidence and happiness. More and more, we are seeing play be embraced by all ages, which is part of the reason we have seen the rise of the kidult, with more adults leaning into play and making purchases within the toy category.

JeremyTucker, Spin Master

How has that evolution of play changed the way you speak with your audience and build brands within the Spin Master portfolio?

The playground of today goes beyond the physical playground of the past. Kids now spend way more of their leisure time in the digital playground. Today’s play experiences can be physical or digital – it’s fluid as the imagination and engagement of modern kids jump between these two worlds. We have positioned Spin Master to be responsive to how kids play with innovative product offerings across our three creative centers: toys, entertainment and digital games. We are where kids are, whether playing on a mobile device, watching content on a streaming service or engaging in physical play. Our PAW Patrol franchise is a great example of a holistic approach to play. We have a 10-year-strong entertainment series with a continuous pipeline of new themes and stories from small to big screens. Our toy line allows kids to act out the rescue missions they see on screen, and then our recently launched “PAW Patrol Academy” app gives them a chance to dive deeper into the PAW Patrol universe with engaging learning games combined with snippets from the show.

Related:Brands Built on Play

“PAW Patrol” toy range, Spin Master

How does Spin Master ensure each collaboration, campaign or licensed product is increasingly creative yet maintains authenticity to its brand?

Spin Master has always been known for our signature innovation for and pushing the boundaries of play. We’re leaning into the fandom that exists both for our own IP and the licensed toy lines we produce alongside our amazing partners. A great example of our applying new creative approaches while maintaining authenticity can be seen in our partnership with Feld’s Monster Jam. When creating our toy line, we always ensure that the trucks and playsets feel authentic to the live experience with meticulous attention to detail. As we have evolved in our relationship, our toy designers have created playsets that feature stunts yet to be seen in the arena/stadium environment. In true partnership, Feld has added some of those ideas from our toy design to the live show. Together, our collaboration inspires innovative products and creates new experiences for fans.

Related:10 Minutes With … Spin Master on the Licensing Strategy for ‘Unicorn Academy’

Our audiences and fans are at the center of everything we create, and understanding their behaviors and preferences helps us to develop licensed consumer products that appeal to them. We also ensure we align licensed extensions that fit the brand DNA. Rubik’s Cube is celebrating its 50-year anniversary in 2024 and given that it is such an iconic symbol in popular culture, captivating millions of curious minds for generations, we’ve been collaborating with brands in the pop culture zeitgeist. We have an entire line of Rubik’s Cubes collabs, including cubes with the NBALAB, “Stranger Things,” Barbie, Hello Kitty, Levi’s, Tetris, The Grateful Dead, G Fuel and many more – enthusiasts are going to want to collect them all.

“Ms. Rachel,” Spin Master

What’s next for Spin Master in terms of brand expansion and evolution?

Spin Master is celebrating its 30-year anniversary in 2024, and it is amazing to see how we’ve evolved from a toy company to a fully imagined children’s entertainment company. Because we now have a three-creative center approach across toys, entertainment and digital games, we can create IP in one center and have it drive a collaborative creative process across the other creative centers. We aim to ignite brand and franchise love with our consumers and give them opportunities to engage deeply with our properties.

We’re taking a full franchise approach with key properties within our portfolio. Unicorn Academy is an excellent example of this approach. We launched a hit series on Netflix, which will drop a second chapter this summer, followed by a fashion doll and plush toy line and a trend-focused consumer product line in categories that lend themselves to this audience and the show, including fashion, stationery, accessories and publishing. And, in 2025, we will launch an amazing adventure-driven digital game that will bring the magic and mystery to life in a whole new form.

Speaking of digital games, in 2023, we’re building on our popular properties by introducing “Rubik’s Match,” a match-3 style mobile game that will expand our reach with all ages, and we’re building on the massive fan base for Toca Boca with the launch of our first multi-player game for the brand – Toca Days.

Of course, we are staying true to our roots by creating awesome toys for kids to ensure they have those magical moments of play. We’re doubling down on early learning with the help of our latest acquisition of Melissa & Doug, a trusted leader in open-ended play. And, coming this fall, we will be launching the first licensed toy line for Ms. Rachel, who is not only a YouTube sensation but also beloved by parents and toddlers. 

This story was taken from the May 2024 issue of License Global. Read the full issue here.

About the Author(s)

Ben Roberts

Content Director, License Global

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