At Hasbro, not everything is fun and games. There are also fashion products, movies, television shows, digital apps and a variety of innovative ideas to tell the story of the company that introduced the world to iconic products such as Mr. Potato Head, the Monopoly game or one of the first action figures, G.I. Joe.
The 89-year-old toy company is exploring unique ways of licensing its brand and telling its story in new, innovative and creative ways.
Simon Waters, senior vice president of global brand licensing and publishing, and his team took the game of Monopoly from the board to the catwalk when they closed New York’s Fashion Week in February with a new fashion line based on the 77-year-old game. Hasbro teamed up with Junk Food Clothing and designers Aaron Rose and Sylvia Heisel to launch a line of T-shirts based on the Monopoly game board spaces.
“It was such a great creative example of how you take a game experience, take the richness of Monopoly and express that in fashion,” Waters says. “What we’ve done is we’ve taken our brand to places that I don’t think people thought were possible just a couple of years ago.”
Waters is a man on a mission. “We are a licensing team with the mission to become the most innovative, collaborative and responsive licensor of brands, stories and experiences,” he says.
Waters explains that innovation is at the core of business success. “You have to innovate to compete,” he continues. “That means siding with the right kind of partners and partnering with the right kind of retailers.”
An example of a great partnership was the Hasbro’s recent collaboration with Jay-Z’s clothing brand Rocawear. The two companies produced a line of men’s sportswear that combined song titles with images from the Battleship game. The line was launched simultaneously at the Rocawear store in New York and at Macy’s right before the release of the movie in May.
His desire to lead a collaborative team has a very practical side to it. “[Being] collaborative is as much about how you work internally to maximize the synergy of your brands, as it is about partnerships with licensing or retailers and creating differentiated programs,” he says.
It was a collaboration among Hasbro’s brand Nerf, Nike and Kevin Durant, small forward for the Oklahoma City Thunder, that produced the Nike Zoom KD IV Nerf shoes. The sneakers, designed with the bright neon pallet characteristic of the Nerf products, came out in 2011 and were packaged with a special-edition Nerf basketball along with a back-of-the-door hoop.
Hasbro is able to respond quickly to customer demands, thanks to the company’s particular structure. “Internally, we are very nimble,” he says. “We have the ability to quickly make decisions as an organization and that puts the brand and the consumer at the center of everything we do.”
The brand’s success is also thanks in part to its long history. “From a consumer perspective, we have great heritage built over the last 60, 70 years with a lot of our brands,” Waters explains.
Waters, who joined Hasbro in 2010 after working for Walt Disney, sees a world of development opportunities for the Hasbro brand in the future. “It is beyond our toys and games,” Waters says. “It’s about our entertainment efforts, our storytelling efforts. We are looking at publishing, as well, and telling our story to consumers in a way that we’ve never done before. It’s so exciting.”
“There is no real limit to what we can do – it’s all about applying the right people to the right partners in the right creative ways,” Waters adds. “We have so much growth to achieve.”