Selling Toys to Big Boys
It’s a quiet day at home, and you’re casually flipping through the pages of a toy magazine or idly clicking through websites on the internet. Suddenly, you stop and stare. It doesn’t have to be for long. Just long enough to think, “Hmm, there’s something about this ad…I really like it! I’m gunna have to get me one of those!” You don’t realize it, but at that moment, your subconscious ramblings have made you an advertiser’s DREAM.
Indeed, before turning the page of your magazine, or clicking out of the website, that aforementioned ad has somehow managed to make a connection with you; an all important “impression” that advertisers hope and pray for. Somehow—the ad has managed to fire your imagination, stir you to action, and spur you to reach for your wallet. Success!
How did this sudden transformation come about? Only moments earlier, you were innocently living your life, not thinking about buying anything. But now—you must buy. The reasons for your attitude change are fascinating to consumer researchers, and when it comes to selling toys to adults (especially grown men), the answer is increasingly proven to be “retro advertising.”
How (Good) Retro-Advertising Works
There’s something familiar about a good retro-advertisment. Depending on the decade being mimicked, its graphics can be bright and bold, or muted and subtle. Regardless, they remind us of something we’ve seen before. Something that made us happy—once before. If poorly executed, they can come off as cynical attempts to manipulate our emotions. But if well done, they’ll tug at our ol’ heartstrings and ‘twang” our nostalgic nerve centers. You WILL want to buy whatever it is they’re selling!
Recently, we’ve been seeing a lot of ads (and toy packaging) that are graphically influenced by the styles and designs of the 1950s and ’60s. Back then, the products being promoted were targeted exclusively to children (primarily young boys), and so the graphics and artwork used were bold, colorful and eye-catching (just what kids like to see). Nowadays, advertisers hoping to reignite memories of those days are creating ads and packages designed along similar lines—but targeted primarily to adults. Just look at Captain Action and his cohorts (see ad at top)! Biff! Bang! WOW!
Bottom Line: Today’s well-crafted, nostalgic toy ads and packaging make adult toy collectors feel good again whenever they see them. And of course, that’s what their creators were hoping for. CAE’s current retro-advertising for Captain Action is a prime example of this strategy, and it shows that they hope to hit the bulls-eye (market segment-wise) and prove that the most effective way to reach adult collectors is by aiming squarely for their nostalgic “FUN bone!” Ow! What was that?