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Fairing Well at Toy Fair


Selling To Kids Magazine

February 7, 2001

Booth after booth. Showroom after showroom. Crowd after crowd. Navigating Toy Fair can be a lot like trying to push your way to the stage during a Britney Spears concert. If you are a Toy Fair neophyte, here are some tips Toy Fair veterans gave Selling To Kids on making the most of the trade show:

Selling to Kids (S2K): What advice do you have for those attending the show?

You need roller skates or a scooter. And I mean that. Bring a good supply of business cards, and try not to carry anything because after a couple of aisles it gets really heavy. Bring some snacks for food because the lines get really long, and it's almost impossible to find a place outside and then go back in.

Get a good night's rest. And you have to take vitamins. You have to know that this is a marathon. This part of it is very frustrating because I want to have seen everything. If I stop to have a meaningful conversation, [I'm] done for.

S2K: What's your strategy?

You have to know what you're looking for and try to go to those aisles. You can't make appointments because it's almost impossible to get to them. It's a good thing to have a plan before hand. We've been working on it almost like a football game. I'm already exhausted, and I haven't even gotten there. There's too much to do in too short a period of time.

Sitting Down With Dr. Toy - Part One

Don't ask Stevanne Auerbach what this year's hot toy will be. The legendary Dr. Toy has little interest in the fourth quarter toy bonanza. "With all the toys in the fourth quarter, you can't get the media interested in a toy in the summer," Auerbach says. "But kids need to play all year."

Kids' need for play - and the developmental milestones achieved through play - is where Auerbach's real interests lie. The author(Dr. Toy's Smart Play: How to Raise a Child with a High P.Q. (Play Quotient), educator and toy expert is currently on tour promoting her latest book, Dr. Toy's Toys for a Lifetime: Enhancing Childhood Through Play. The book, available at FAO Schwarz or through, is a look at classic toys that continue to offer positive, developmental play experiences for kids.

Selling To Kids caught up with Auerbach during her stop in Washington, D.C., and spoke with her about kids marketing, the link between play and learning and

S2K: There's been a lot of controversy lately about marketing in schools. How do you feel about blurring the line between the boardroom and classroom?

Auerbach: A lot of good information wouldn't get published if someone didn't sponsor it. But everyone who produces anything that goes into the classroom [should have to] goes through the process of being approved by teachers.

Also, teachers need to understand the value of games [and other play experiences] in the classroom. Kids who have trouble reading would have less trouble if they put together a model car.

Watch for the next Selling to Kids issue where we will give you more of this exclusive interview with Dr. Toy


Dr. Toy Dishes on Marketing & More - Part Two

In our last issue, Selling To Kids brought you the first part of our interview with Dr. Toy, Stevanne Auerbach. She is currently on tour promoting her latest book, Dr. Toy's Toys for a Lifetime: Enhancing Childhood Through Play. The book looks at classic toys and what they offer children. We spoke to Auerbach more on kids marketing and play in the conclusion of this two-part interview.

S2K: So you believe that business can and should play a positive role in schools?

Auerbach: We need to respect the needs of children and not exploit them. It's pathetic when kids get into whining for something. It's shortsighted for companies to promote that. Parents will hate the company in the long run, and it will backfire.

S2K: What are some of the biggest shortcomings among the toys being developed right now?

Auerbach: There's a glut of licenses and movie tie-ins. A lot of products - and parents - have reached the saturation point. I can see why they do it. But my criteria are beyond making money. It's about making play work and meeting children's needs before profits.

Also, rip-off toys are a pet gripe. Kids want the real thing, not a copy. And if the industry is so short on ideas that they have to steal an inventor's ideas, [there's a problem]. There is enough room [in the toy industry] for people to not take other's ideas.

Marketing and PR people should welcome opportunities to hear new ideas from people [outside their organizations], but instead they put up an adversarial position. They're ripping people off. There needs to be a code of ethics in the industry. [Companies that produce products and entertainment for children] should be monitoring themselves and setting positive examples for kids.

S2K: Those values come through in the toys you select for your books. You're not looking for this week's hot product. Tell us more about the criteria you use.

Auerbach: I look beyond hype. I know what I like, and I can see a diamond in the rough. I have to see there will be some kid who will really love this toy. It's not just, "Wow, every kid has to have this." It has to meet certain criteria: good design, the right price, and realistic age range. It has to be worth the money - if it costs more than $100, it better be worth it. And of course we're also looking for something unique. Children need variety.

S2K: What's your advice to kids marketers for building positive campaigns?

Auerbach: People in the industry need to help children facilitate a positive attitude. It's a need for marketing positive images. The product can be part of what pushes that, but in marketing, instead of bringing in a celebrity, give a "young citizen of the week" award. Instead of "adventures in Nike," do "volunteering in Nike" [and put real kids doing good in advertising]. No one but business that have a stake in childhood will do this. And in the long run, kids will be their loyal consumers.

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