The backbone of the preschool board game campaign-a song titled "Come Play With Me"-was written in 1996 by Grey Advertising VP-Assistant Creative Director Lou Maurio. He wrote the tune for his then 5-year-old daughter, who shanghaied him into playing a board game every morning.
Soon after penning the folksy song, Mr. Maurio played it for his agency partner, VP-Assistant Creative Director Michael Algieri. Mr. Algieri thought it would be perfect for their Hasbro client, although at the time they didn't know where it would fit in.
"Mike said, 'I think we have an idea there, but we just don't know what to do with it,' " said Mr. Maurio.
A year and a half later, Hasbro provided the answer.
FOR TV, RADIO PUSH
The No. 1 toy marketer was considering an umbrella campaign for its My First Games business, which consists of eight preschool-oriented board games such as Candy Land and Chutes & Ladders. And so the song re-emerged at Grey, and is now a major part of Hasbro's integrated effort for its Milton Bradley Co. and Parker Bros. games.
The tune is the theme song for a TV and radio effort promoting family game time. The tagline: "The best part of playing is playing together."
In order to make the campaign believable, Mr. Algieri sought out stars for the print ads and TV spots he thought were "realistic."
"We decided to cast real family members-moms and dads with children," he said, adding that he wanted to avoid "the 'standoffness' that often occurs between models and actors meeting for the first time."
Print ads will run in magazines including Crayola Kids, Parenting, Parents and Sesame Street Kids.
Grey-affiliated interactive shop KPE, New York, created a coordinating Web site, which is being launched this month.
PROMOTE FAMILY BONDING
The advertising premise is that board games lead to family bonding while also teaching children to count and identify colors. Ads also promote the games as a quick and easy way to spend time with children.
"They take just minutes, but you'll give her the most important thing of all, a part of yourself," reads one print ad.
There will be consumer promotions, public relations and in-store merchandising. The marketer tapped child psychiatrist and "Today Show" parenting contributor