Promotional Tour Touts a Better Toy Experience

Arnold Division Drives Grassroots Effort for E-Commerce Startup
BOSTON–A fleet of five brightly colored vans are bringing products to kids across the country.
Toysmart, a 10-month-old e-commerce company based in Waltham, Mass., champions “good toys”–high-quality, hard-to-find products that stimulate a child’s imagination.
The vans will make more than 300 stops in 22 cities by Thanksgiving. Dubbed the “Good Toy Tour,” the promotion was conceived by staffers of Arnold Brand Promotions.
The group, overseen by executive vice president Beth Rice, presented the idea to Toysmart executives when Boston-based Arnold Communications pitched the account at the beginning of the year.
“Anybody can do TV, print and radio,” said Toysmart marketing vice president Kelly McGovern. “But you also have to go out and do grassroots initiatives and really get down and dirty with the customers.”
The toy tour will account for more than $1 million of the $21 million Toysmart will spend this year on advertising. Arnold created a TV, radio and print campaign with the tagline, “Click on your child’s potential.” Those ads are running through December.
The “Good Toy” vehicles resemble delivery vans with exteriors decorated with paintings of kids and toys. At each stop, children are invited to play with toys in the truck or at a tented area set up nearby while parents explore Toysmart’s Web site or register for sweepstakes at an adjacent computer kiosk. Before departing, each child is given a toy and a $10 gift certificate for the site.
“The reaction from the kids is so exciting,” said Anne Bear Honkonen, who manages the team of six Arnold Brand Promotions staffers working on the account. “It’s like a mini-festival.”
Toysmart also funded a year’s worth of Sesame Street programs on PBS in exchange for 15 seconds of ad time before and after each episode, and the company has struck deals with majority investor Disney for ad placement in the corporation’s entertainment properties and products, McGovern said.