Star Wars has long been the gold standard for licensed media in the toy aisle, with a multitude of products, quality items, and strong sales. While the craftsmanship on the toys from Hasbro has seen a recent downward trend, causing their 2015 Jurassic World line to be met with much ire, Star Wars continues to perform successfully. It’s an evergreen property, with numerous movies, comics, books and cartoons to support interest and awareness with fans of all ages, driving toy sales forward.
In 2016, it was announced Mattel had won the bid for the Jurassic World / Park toy master license, taking it from Hasbro who had held since 1993 (if you count that they owned Kenner). Mattel spared no expense, and hit the ground running with their Jurassic toy line which made its debut in Spring of 2018 to coincide with the latest sequel, Fallen Kingdom. With Mattel in charge of the license, they reaffirmed Jurassic as a quality industry leading brand, ripe with innovative and diverse play patterns, quality film accurate toys, topped off with incredible competitive pricing models not seen in current competition. These choices, along with the Jurassic presence in theaters now has led to kids, parents, and collectors all being enticed to purchase and play.
With the latest waves of Mattel Jurassic World toys hitting shelves now, the dinosaurs are on a rampage of fun – according to the NPD Group, Jurassic is currently outselling Star Wars action figures in the US. Jurassic and Marvel led action figures sales to grow by 16%, which is no small feat given the closing of Toys R Us. While internationally, Star Wars is the number 3 overall brand (this encompasses more than action figures), and Jurassic has not broken top 10, this performance shows great opportunity for momentum moving forward – especially as dinosaur toys have grown in popularity by 77% year to date.
Personally, I see incredible potential for Jurassic World moving forward – but it will take some work. As such, I’ve lightly outlined some of my proposed transmedia expansion concepts below.
Room for Growth
Universal Pictures in conjunction with Mattel and other brand partners are in the unique position to build upon this momentum to further strengthen brand awareness, diversity, and demand. Jurassic, regardless of a film in theaters, can and should become synonymous with dinosaur toys and products for fans of all ages. Dinosaurs have an everlasting appeal, and populate toy and product shelves even without expanded marketing. With Jurassic’s unique hold on pop culture, it can take hold of the forefront of dinosaur media and hardline sales, expanding it into new territory, just as Star Wars has become a prime staple of merchandise aisles.
To fully leverage this opportunity, the brand itself need to expand its transmedia thumbprint and target as many different age groups and demographics as possible. While the films target a slightly older audience (around 7 and up) with a PG-13 rating, there is plenty of room for growth in the pre-school sector. To drive that brand awareness and acceptance amongst parents, something like a educational and friendly ‘Jurassic World Rangers’ animated series could do wonders – let it take place when the park was open, and follow the paths of vets and trainers working with the animals as they become sick or distressed. Let it be about aiding the animals, and let it teach young audiences all about the dinosaurs and characters jobs in exciting and positive scenarios. With the kids and parents on board, they’ll surely be fans for life as they grow into the core media and product offerings.
To better sustain the core Jurassic brand, the possibilities and perhaps need for expanded media sustain programs are endless. This could range from toys backed by animated content targeting the appropriate age range and tone, animated series, books, comics, video games, and live action “spin-off” stories (be it film, TV, or shorts). Most importantly, this content must be high quality, representing the brands film legacy and reputation, delivering top of the line content no matter the outlet. In the age of social media, pop culture awareness and discussion is a self-running machine, but the more parts added into the mix, the more diverse, and prolific it becomes.
Perhaps most unique to Jurassic, is the outlet for creative growth in the education sector. While the dinosaurs of Jurassic World are different from their real world namesakes, these differences can be fully embraced while collaborating with STEM partners to expand dinosaur knowledge. If Jurassic began partnering with the science community to expand real world dinosaur information in ways they cannot typically achieve alone, paleontologists, schools, museums, and other similar outlets will embrace the brand with open arms. Be it reinstating a website like Jurassic Park Institute, sharing news from Paleontological discoveries, or even sponsoring or curating dino-education TV or web programs such as documentaries, Jurassic would only further strengthen brand awareness while achieving a genuinely positive impact.
The future for our very own Jurassic World is a vast expanse of endless opportunity of innovation and entertainment, fueling engagement across multiple platforms. My hope is new programs are continuously implemented to keep this momentum moving forward – spare no expense, and let dinosaurs rule the earth.