Hasbro Bluntly Urges its Loyalest Customers to “Ditch the Digital Distractions” (and Return to Toys) in Mass E-mail Promotion Released Today


How to Help Hasbro Stem the Flow—In this screenshot (taken today) of our email “inbox,” the subject heading of Hasbro’s most recent mass emailing urges consumers to “Ditch the digital distractions.” Digital devices such as cell phones and video games are a growing threat to an already beleaguered toy industry. This latest plea from Hasbro appears to confirm that fact. Click to enlarge.

An Open Admission of a Major Threat to a Struggling Toy Industry



“Ditch the digital distractions.”

Those four powerful words are actually quite revelatory coming from a company like Hasbro. Giant corporations that generate billions of dollars in sales—per year—typically want nothing more than to paint the rosiest of pictures (regarding their businesses) for their customers and of course, their stockholders. But for a few years now, toy industry analysts (including those here at The Joe Report) have been openly ruing and discussing how two specific inventions—the cell phone and the video game console—have largely been responsible for precipitating an industry-wide slump in toy sales; not to mention the bankruptcies and closings of major toy retailers (i.e. Toys ‘R Us, Hobbico, etc.) and the scariest thing of all—the growing LOSS of the toy industry’s  historically primary customer base—CHILDREN. Yes indeed, those are four POWERFUL words.

One BIG Question Remains—Will Children “Tune Out” of Toy Fandom FOREVER?

Remember the days when toy companies simply had to urge us to “Collect ’em All!” and we’d frantically beat a path to our local toy store to comply? Sure ’nuff! And growing up, we’d watch all of those Hasbro and Mattel commercials on TV, see their products displayed in store windows, and peruse their ads in endless pages of comic books. By the time we’d finally convinced our parents to take us to the toy store, our desires had become almost Pavlovian. See the toy—want the toy. Remember the mad scrambles over Cabbage Patch Dolls back in the 1980s? The idea of that sort of consumer “scrum” over ANY toy today seems almost quaint. It’s just not likely to happen.

Forgotten how to PLAY? (Photo: The Finder)

Bottom Line: This latest email from Hasbro may be nothing—or it may be something. How’s that for a wishy-washy conclusion? Regardless, we’re sure that the “big boys” over at both Hasbro and Mattel would be THRILLED to see some of that ol’ “rabid” consumer interest in their products once again. But thanks to today’s dreaded digital distractions, that sort of mania doesn’t seem likely to happen ever again. In fact, the current, ongoing, DECREASING demand for nearly all categories and brands of toys continues to paint a gloomy (rather than rosy) picture for the industry. It clearly has MANY manufacturers worried (see our previous story HERE). Fingers crossed for better news!

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8 thoughts on “Hasbro Bluntly Urges its Loyalest Customers to “Ditch the Digital Distractions” (and Return to Toys) in Mass E-mail Promotion Released Today

  1. Brad Baldwin says:

    Rebuild the toy factories with 3-D printer technology and get collectors involved again and rebuild the GI Joe army!!

  2. Diana Davis says:

    OK, a screenshot of an unopened email isn’t enough information to go off of. I can’t come to any conclusion with such scant info. Please add the text of the email itself, otherwise, this is incomplete reporting.

    • Mark Otnes says:

      This story is about the subject line of the email, not about the content of the email. As for the contents, there was no text, only a clickable photo of 2 kids playing with Hasbro toys and some embedded type that stated: “From board game favorites to imaginative playsets, we have everything you need to get them offline and back to playtime.”

  3. Gun Shy says:

    I think they’re talking out of both sides of their mouths. They made content that was strictly an effort to get kids to buy toys because they saw them on TV. Instead of making cool toys based on the simple premise of play, or at least toys based on good shows or movies that never dreamed of making toys based on them, Hasbro created the distraction of “look at this media and then buy the official toys that the content was based on,” hence diluting the concept of play based on your own imagination and an internal desire to play! If the media is the thing, then the media will become the everything, including the means to play.

  4. ART SPLASH says:

    “THAT’S BULL****” ! My Grand-kids play with all types of cyber games and they also collect most of the toys that are related to those games. It’s a different generation; and what we found interesting is just plain boring by today’s standards.

    MILTON BRADLEY is a good example of a game/toy product-line that has been upgraded to meet todays market. Old-time board games such as “MOMNOPLY, RISK. CLUE, BATTLE-SHIP” – all have remained best-sellers by incorporating current technology. Just attend the next comic con in your city and anyone can see the amount of toys sold; not to mention the secondary sales market of vintage toys. “Forget-a-boutit!!!”

    Toys-R-Us and Hasbro may be on the way out, much the same way as “The 5 & Dime” departments stores of the ’40s and ’50s. Mc Crory’s, Wools Worth, H.S.Kress, J.C Penneys, and Sears, any kid knew that was the place to go for toys. For over 100 yrs. Gilbert was a leading advocate for child’s play/education with Microscope, Chemistry, Astronomy and Erector Sets. But as great as they were, nonetheless like all things—they passed.

    We need to be grateful for our children having the opportunity to develop future skill sets. I welcome the benefits of Bluetooth, LEGO and 3-D Printing; all products of today’s Universal Digital Technology. The discontinued toy line, irregardless, of its popularity, over my child’s development, is a trade-off I’ll take any time!

  5. My kids like electronics but they also love collecting toys, just like i did. The world changes, you just need to moderate kids’ activities for some variety.

  6. Danny says:

    Make toys available again. Make ’em in enough quantities that they’re actually on the shelves and scalpers can’t make the toys unavailable. SCALPERS & LACK OF AVAILABLE PRODUCT have turned kids to what is available and on the shelf. Quality is also important if it’s cheap and crappy looking, nobody’s gonna buy that either.

  7. kneonknight says:

    I have a counter proposal for Hasbro— Make toys that kids want to play with because they are fun, not because they are tied to a movie or video game franchise. Seemed to work pretty well when you were making G.I. Joes and Mr. Potatohead back in the 60s and 70s. In fact, very few toys back then were tied to a specific franchise, but many were spread across a multitude of genres from knights and vikings, to soldiers and cowboys, and all the way up to secret agents and astronauts.

    Hasbro, Marx, Tomy, Ideal and others had strong entries in these markets, and many smaller or less known companies made a good deal of money on knockoffs. Aside from these were Hot Wheels, Johnny Lightning, Corgi and Matchbox Cars, Tonka Trucks, toys to make other toys like the Thingmaker, Lego and Fischertechnik.

    There were also make-believe costumes and accessories that were generic in nature so that a sparking pistol could be a Buck Rogers ray gun or a Star Trek Phaser, a pretend crown and sword for a warrior king or queen from any popular sword and sorcery fiction – and on and on and on.

    It’s not that kids have no imagination, it’s the toymakers that seem to have lost theirs. Kids buy videogames and related material simply because there is damned little else available. As a personal note, my daughter really loves boardgames, model building, Lego, and my vintage G.I. Joes who have kicked Ken out of the Dream House and now use it as a fortress/spy headquarters/party pad. Barbie seems happy with the arrangement.

    My father used to say that “a poor workman blames his tools”, and I suggest that a poor manufacturer blames the market. Children are naturally curious and imaginative, and it is ridiculous to blame them for buying what is available when you make nothing else.

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