In 2011, more than 1.5 million units of Hexbug, a range of toy micro robotic creatures, were sold in the UK, meaning that one in 40 people in Britain own one. The brand is now a household name and last year, the toys generated about £10m in retail sales for parent company Innovation First, which produces educational and competitive robotics products.
It was a very different story in September 2010, when Heather Corbett joined the business as marketing manager, UK and Europe. The Innovation First brands, including Hexbug, had very low brand profiles and awareness in the UK. The marketing department was run by a part-time contract employee, without any agency assistance, and had minimal strategic plans in place.
Corbett's objective was to change that. She is responsible for the marketing communications, PR, branding and advertising for all Innovation First Brands, including Hexbug, Bobble Bots Moshi Monsters, VEX Robotics and RackSolutions.
To raise Hexbug's profile, Corbett played an integral part in the hiring of Paul Edwards, national business development manager and a toy industry veteran who knew the decision makers in the UK toy market. She then employed Media Clarity for media buying and Cohn & Wolfe for public relations. Within three months, she had formed a strong team to support her.
Through an integrated campaign including advertising, public relations, trade shows, and social media, Corbett has raised the profile of the Hexbug brand immensely and has taken risks that have paid off handsomely. Hexbug was the main sponsor at the Toy Fair in January 2011, the UK toy industry's biggest event, when the brand was still unheard of in the UK.
Corbett also took the decision to sell products at the The Gadget Show, enabling the brand to reach out to new customers as well as focusing on its educational and gadget features.
By Easter last year, all major retailers were selling Hexbugs.
Corbett also devised a memorable television advertising campaign for Hexbug. It is testament to Corbett's work in the past year that Hexbug has picked up a number of industry accolades, including being named in the Toys R Us Top 20 Toys for Christmas 2011 and John Lewis' Top Ten Toys for Christmas.
- Richard Fitzmaurice, global key account marketing lead, BT Global Services
- Will Gunton, assistant marketing manager, Dave (UKTV)
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