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Toy Sites Ready for Holiday Season

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Arnold Breaks Toysmart Work; SmarterKids Taps Mullen for Ads
BOSTON--A pair of online educational toy retailers will wage war this fall with competing campaigns from Arnold Communications and Mullen.
Boston-based Arnold this week breaks its first work for Toysmart.com, including a powerful series of TV, radio and print ads with the tagline, "Click on your child's potential."
The $21 million effort celebrates childhood with a montage of images shot on location in California by director Marcus Nispel.
Toysmart.com chief marketing officer Kelly McGovern sees the Waltham, Mass.-based company as nothing short of a crusade to inspire creativity and give parents an alternative to mass-marketed toys. "This is about creating a movement around toys that nurture a child's mind and imagination," she said.
In addition to its primetime and cable television and radio buys, Toysmart.com beginning this month will underwrite a year's worth of Sesame Street programming on PBS. Fifteen-second spots will open and close each episode.
Meanwhile, Wenham, Mass.-based Mullen has created a television and radio effort for SmarterKids.com, a site that lets consumers shop for educational toys, books, games and related items. The tagline: "Open minds. Open worlds."
Carat Freeman in Newton, Mass., is handling media buying and planning chores. Spending is estimated at $10 million.
The campaign, which breaks this month, will mainly target working mothers and is designed to lure consumers to the site during the upcoming holiday season, according to Al Noyes, vice president of sales and marketing at the Needham, Mass.-based client.
SmarterKids.com selected Mullen following "an informal, short-lived review" in which Partners & Simons in Boston and Saatchi & Saatchi unit Darwin Digital in New York participated, according to Noyes.
Mullen got the nod based on its creative acumen and experience building kids brands for Disney, Reebok, L.L. Bean and others, Noyes said.
The client competes to some extent with a bevy of online services targeting kids, including Toysmart.com and eToys.com, which uses Publicis & Hal Riney, San Francisco, for advertising.
The point of differentiation to be stressed in upcoming campaigns is SmarterKids' commitment to helping children aged 2-14 achieve their academic and social potential, according to Noyes.