The idea of brands becoming publishers has been around for a couple years, as businesses have en masse created social media pages and content blogs to promote their wares. But few companies applied the concept as literally as Johnson & Johnson with its BabyCenter website, which actually sells ads to brands that aren't part of the corporate family, including AT&T and Walgreens.
The latest example? Fisher-Price, which today debuted a Prince George-themed effort to commemorate the royal baby's first birthday on July 22. Through the end of the year, the brand is dangling a royal birthday sweepstakes that targets millennial moms with the monthly chance of winning the following package: 12 classic Fisher-Price toys; a $100 savings bond; a cake from Charm City Cakes; and a royal-themed party kit for 25 attendees.
While promos will also appear via Pandora Radio, Facebook and Evite, the digital-only campaign is anchored on BabyCenter, where display ads will run into the fall, encouraging consumers to sign up for Fisher-Price's newly created My First Birthday Club. The toy maker will target moms with babies who are between 10 and 12 months old, as BabyCenter's data shows mothers start planning their young child's first birthday at the 10-month mark. The marketing program aims to push the benefits of the brand's toys for this developmental stage of child-rearing. Financial terms were not disclosed.
Cathy Cline, vp, Fisher-Price Marketing, North America, said the endeavor "is targeted toward millennial moms, which make up 80 percent of today's first-time moms. We know 90 percent of millennials are highly digital, so this campaign will be 100 percent digital—with an added emphasis on mobile and social."
Starting tomorrow, BabyCenter will host a Fisher-Price-branded Facebook application dubbed "Make Your Baby Royal." Parents can upload a picture of their kid and then add various royal-themed accessories to the photo. Fisher-Price also will sponsor six-hour birthday-planning events on BabyCenter.com, where the site's moderators will be charged with cultivating social conversations around the topic. Such digital discussions will take place on July 18, Aug. 15, Sept. 12 and Oct. 17.
Fisher-Price's initiative is the first BabyCenter partnership to entail the aforementioned Facebook app, according to Julie Michaelson, vp of sales, North America, for the site. She suggested that the birth of Prince George last year made for such prolific conversation on her site that a branded arrangement with a company like Fisher-Price was a no-brainer for her sales team.
"We blogged about it every day as his arrival became imminent," Michaelson added.