Chieftain still game

After tottering on the verge of bankruptcy earlier this year, Toronto toy and game company Chieftain Products claims it has put its financial house in order.Peter Vernon, vice-president of Chieftain, which is best known for taking on the original Trivial Pursuit...

After tottering on the verge of bankruptcy earlier this year, Toronto toy and game company Chieftain Products claims it has put its financial house in order.

Peter Vernon, vice-president of Chieftain, which is best known for taking on the original Trivial Pursuit board game in the early 1980s, suffered a cash squeeze when the bank it was then working with demanded tighter credit terms.

Vernon says the family-owned company, which was founded by his late father Tom Vernon, subsequently restructured itself financially, switched banks and is moving forward.

As part of the restructuring, Chieftain offered its creditors the choice between accepting partial payment immediately or waiting several months and collecting the full amount owed.

Among the products Chieftain handles are the video board games, Nightmare and Rap Rat. It also handles Etch-A-Sketch.

Agency

Weis & Associates, the Toronto agency that has worked on the Chieftain account since 1990, was one of the creditors that accepted partial payment, in this case 30 cents on the dollar.

Weis was owed money for the development, last December and January, of a tv spot for a new board game, Wilbor’s Web.

Chieftain had intended to launch Wilbor’s Web this year, but the plans have since been scuttled, according to Vernon.

Agency head Noemi Weis says Chieftain’s money troubles ‘came as a complete surprise because it has always been an excellent account.’

Partial payment

Weis adds she elected to accept partial payment rather than hold out for the full amount because she was concerned Chieftain would not recover financially.

After the restructuring, Chieftain hired a new marketing manager, Vanda Rosenberg, who subsequently put the company’s ad account up for review.

Weis says she was approached to participate, but declined because she felt the company had not honored a commitment it had made to her to award future work to Weis & Associates in return for the agency’s having accepted 30 cents on the dollar.

On June 23, Franklin Dallas was awarded the account, valued at less than $1 million.

Rosenberg says Chieftain’s key product for 1993 will be Nightmare IV, which she plans to support with cinema advertising beginning Oct. 4, followed by tv advertising in November. PA