Playmobil to launch NHL line

The toy brand's first licensing deal is part of its growing marketing presence over the last five years.

Playmobil has partnered with the NHL on an upcoming toy line, the first licensing deal for the company and part of an effort to strength its brand awareness among kids.

The line, available in North America and Europe, will focus on the Original Six, featuring a player and goalie figure for each team: the Boston Bruins, Chicago Blackhawks, Detroit Red Wings, Montreal Canadiens, New York Rangers and Toronto Maple Leafs. Play sets featuring a full ice rink, Zamboni, referees and a miniature Stanley Cup will also be available. More teams are expected to be added over time.

The partnership with the NHL is the first licensing deal Playmobil has done in its 60-year history, and is being led out of Canada. Richard Brookes, director of sales and marketing for Playmobil Canada, says the general philosophy at the company has been to let children explore their imagination within themes and playsets, something that can be limited by certain licences or properties. What makes the NHL and its teams different is their iconic status, and the world of hockey is one kids are already eager to explore.

“With the NHL, it’s almost a theme in itself,” Brookes says. “We’re creating a world that already exists for the child, so they can bring their imagination and desire for that like they would with any other set.”

He adds a property like the NHL brings longevity with it and the possibility of exposing the brand to an audience of kids that might not have been interested in Playmobil before.

The toys are scheduled to launch in October, in time for the start of the next NHL season, and will be supported by a full campaign that will include TV spots. The commercials will be produced by Playmobil Canada, and Brookes says creating their own spots is a first in Canada for the company, which has typically taken the ads coming out of the global office in Germany and adapted them for the Canadian market.

Over the last five years, Brookes says the company’s marketing budget and strategy has grown with its sales, marked by an increased advertising presence. Having spent very little on building the Playmobil brand and awareness in the past, it has become a necessity for the company as the toy marketplace becomes more competitive.

“We’ve built up our PR, advertising and marketing strategies to include even TV, which we never did in Canada before,” he says. “It’s a fairly simple strategy, but each year it’s been increasing, so we’ve gone from pretty much nothing to a much larger commitment to spending and the budget we have now.”