Hasbro’s Transformers franchise is pursuing a multi-media strategy designed to transcend generations, reports Gregory Schmidt in The New York Times (3/2/13). When it was introduced in 1984, Transformers — “robots disguised as everyday objects” — was “aimed at 5-year-old boys,” but now it is training its sights on “everyone from toddlers to adults,” including females. “The goal is to take what you have and bring an age-relevant message, which is to get away from the battle and the fighting and focus on the heroic nature of Transformers,” says Hasbro’s Jay Duke.
This concept manifests itself in Rescue Bots, introduced in 2011 and positioning the toy “as first responders.” This stands in contrast to the “main Transformers brand,” which features “big robots battling for control of the planet.” Ryan Yzquierdo, “a Transformers fan since he was 7,” thought “Rescue Bots were a good way to introduce Transformers to his 3-year-old daughter” — and his wife agreed. “Each toy focused on a different motor skill, which was a big selling point for my wife and me,” he says.
To appeal to older boys, meanwhile, Hasbro “has extended the brand into mobile apps, video games and comic books. For adults, the company has licensed an annual Transformers convention called BotCon.” Such diversification dates back to 2007, when “Hasbro began a new strategy to build the brand into a worldwide franchise” with “live-action movies, video games, publishing and even theme-park rides.” It has since applied a similar strategy to My Little Pony, originally intended for 3-year-old girls, but thanks to a television series, now attracts “legions of adult fans,” including men, who call themselves Bronies.