Bandai Wants Girls in on Action

Boys have been the biggest audience for Bandai, best known for its line of Power Rangers action figures. But with last year’s successful reintroduction of Strawberry Shortcake, the toymaker plans to increase ad efforts for its girls, activity and collectible-card lines, a company executive said last week.

“We’ve traditionally been a boys action-figure company, but with Strawberry Shortcake, we’ve proven differently,” said Michael Riley, Bandai’s vp of marketing.

The client’s new agency, Dentsu’s Colby & Partners in Santa Monica, Calif., will create ads for Bandai’s 13 brands. The shop, which last month won the creative portion of Bandai’s $20 million account, is expected to launch work this spring.

Boys toys will remain Bandai’s core business, with a major push set for a line based on TV’s Power Rangers DinoThunder series. But Bandai also is introducing an expanded line of Strawberry Shortcake scented dolls.

Running the account at Colby is svp, account director Michael Parise, formerly svp and group management director at Interpublic Group’s Foote Cone & Belding, Irvine, Calif. There, he had worked on No. 1 Mattel, which, according to Hoover’s Online, had 2003 sales of nearly $5 billion; Bandai’s sales of about $2 billion for its last fiscal year put it at No. 3 behind Hasbro’s $3 billion.

Parise, who left FCB in January, aided Colby in its Bandai pitch. The shop bested two other finalists: WPP’s J. Walter Thompson, the incumbent; and Dailey & Associates in West Hollywood, Calif. WPP’s MindShare, here, handles media.