14 STREAMING MEDIA July/August 2018
behind the screens
How YouTube Influencer Marketing
Created the Toy of the Year By Troy Dreier
WowWee’s robots have gotten cuter. In 2004, the toy company had a hit with Robosapien, a hulking robot that could
be programmed via remote control. In 2014, it
put out MiP, a more rounded ‘bot that balanced
on two wheels.
But why does a robot need to look like a robot? Why couldn’t it look like, say, a monkey?
WowWee’s Fingerlings were the hot toy of
the 2017 holiday season, but their genesis started a year-and-a-half before. Sydney Wiseman,
a brand manager for the company, saw a post
on a social media account showing a pygmy
marmoset monkey clinging to a person’s finger. The adorable image went viral, and Wiseman saw potential for a toy. She shared the
idea with Davin Sufer, Wow Wee’s CTO, as well
as the research and development team, and
the Fingerlings were born.
WowWee’s strength is that it can deliver interactive robots at a fair price. Its weakness,
prior to this, is that its robots were only a hit
with a niche audience. But with Fingerlings,
WowWee found what it had been missing—a
robotic toy with mass appeal. The line sold for
$15 each, putting it in the impulse-purchase
area. Fingerlings debuted with six adorable
models in different colors (one lavender model was named Sydney for their creator), and
from the start they were popular with both
boys and girls. Fingerlings have 40 different
actions and respond when touched or spoken
to. Once in a while, they even fart. WowWee
clearly knows its audience.
The original line debuted in August 2017,
on a day the company called Fingerlings Friday. Sensing that it had something special to
offer, the company planned a debut event that
would get it noticed. These days, that means
using You Tube, influencers, and social media.
Wow Wee’s brand management team started
by determining which influencers they wanted
to work with, making a list that included Mack-
enzie Ziegler, JacyandKacy, and ForEverAnd-
ForAva. While these young celebs might be
unknown to most people, they have enormous
audiences online. As of this writing, Ziegler
has 2. 4 million You Tube subscribers, Jacy and
Kacy have 2. 5 million, and Everleigh and Ava
have 1. 1 million.
Simply working with popular You Tubers isn’t
enough, however. To really launch a product,
companies need viewers to help spread the message. To do that, WowWee created a fun event
for influencers and viewers alike to take part
in. That event included banana piñatas.
“We really wanted to create shareability,”
explains Tiffany Kayar, communications manager for WowWee. “So, to optimize that word-of-mouth and that shareability so that we could
reach all these different core audiences, we
didn’t just want kids to watch an unboxing and
then say, ‘Oh, OK, that’s cool,’ or to watch a review and say, ‘Oh, OK, that’s neat,’ but we really
wanted them to feel like they were a part of it.
So we took the people that they look up to the
most and gave them a very interactive experience: Instead of doing a traditional unboxing,
we wanted to do a piñata ‘unbashing.’ So then
that way it was kind of fun, it was cute, it was
very within the line of how the brand look and
feel is, and how the world of the Fingerlings that
they’re in is definitely very silly and whimsical.
We wanted audiences to feel like they could be
The original six
an immediate hit
when they debuted
in August 2017,
and became one of
the hottest toys of
the holiday season,
in part because
of marketing via
You Tube influencers.