Hasbro Evaluates $80 Mil. Toy Biz

Hasbro is evaluating the agencies that handle its toy products in what sources are characterizing as preparation for a consolidation.

A client representative confirmed that Brian Goldner, the new president of the Pawtucket, R.I.-based company’s toy group, has been meeting with representatives from Grey Worldwide, Griffin Bacal and rotter•-kantor, all New York.

“We have a new president of our toy division, and he is currently looking at our agencies,” said Hasbro’s Gary Serby, who declined to comment further. Goldner could not be reached for comment, but sources said those talks may extend to nonroster shops.

Last month, Hasbro issued an earnings warning for the third and fourth quarters because of weak demand for its Pokémon and Star Wars toys, both handled by Grey.

However, sources said Grey, whose Hasbro relationship dates back to 1977, could be favored in any consolidation over rotter•kantor and Griffin Bacal, which has also been on the roster for more than two decades. Rotter•kantor handles the client’s OddzOn division products, acquired by Hasbro in 1997.

“Which is the bigger, less risky shop? That’s the question in a consolidation,” one source said, commenting on Grey’s possible edge in creative and media duties.

Hasbro spent about $180 million in media in 1999 with $80 million allocated to toys, according to Com-petitive Media Reporting. Sources estimate that Grey’s MediaCom handles $80-100 million in media, with Optimum Media Direction servicing the remainder. Griffin Bacal and OMD are owned by Omnicom.

Hasbro’s other roster shop, Jordan Mc-Grath Case & Partners Euro RSCG in New York, is believed to be unaffected be-cause it handles products like Trivial Pursuit and Pictionary in the games division, headed by Dave Wilson.

Officials at the shops either could not be reached or declined comment.

Goldner joined Hasbro in March as COO of its Tiger division and was promoted to president of the U.S. toy group in August.