LASER CHALLENGE ZAPS OLDER TEENS IN FALL CAMPAIGN: FAN CLUB AND CROSS-PROMOS ARE ON WAY FOR TOYMAX LINE

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Toymax is loading up for a $7 million fall marketing push for its pistol-hot Laser Challenge, targeting older teens and looking to pre-emptively zap competitors trying to cash in on this recharged toy category.

The initial portion of a $5 million ad campaign created in-house breaks Aug. 18, about the same time Tiger Electronics reportedly will launch a $2.5 million marketing assault behind its retooled Laser Tag brand. Laser Tag is credited with creating the category about 10 years ago when its was owned by Worlds of Wonder.

Posnick & Kolker, New York, handles Laser Tag.

Laser Challenge is generating about $45 million in retail sales, said Toymax President Steve Lebensfeld.

The marketer initially targeted kids age 8 and older and positioned the product as an indoor toy, even though ads featured kids playing with the product outdoors.

FOR OLDER KIDS, TOO

"We found that it plays well to older kids as well," said VP-Marketing Amy Weltman.

In the 1980s, Laser Tag enjoyed popularity among older teens and young adults. In Toymax's new Laser Challenge advertising, the kids seen playing with the toys are teen-agers, older than the pre-teens featured last year. The ads show both indoor and outdoor play.

The tagline is "The challenge continues," and alludes to line extensions being introduced this fall. The campaign begins with the two spots in August, with two more coming in October as it ramps up for the holiday season.

With one of the October spots, Toymax will introduce its next-generation Laser Challenge equipment, the Laser Challenge Pro Series. It will be available for holiday sales. Creative will feature two teams of twentysomething players, competing in an arenalike setting.

STARTING A FAN CLUB

Toymax is supporting Laser Challenge with promotions, including the launch of a fan club. Laser Challenge has two cross-promotions on tap: In October, Duracell will promote the product on 500,000 packages, and in November CPC International's Boboli bread shells will tout an instant-win promotion on 1 million packages and point-of-purchase materials at 10,000 supermarkets. Also, F.A.O. Schwarz will establish major in-store displays at several of its key locations, including New York, Las Vegas and Orlando.

Next spring, Toymax will more aggressively woo older teens and college-age consumers with a grass-roots program anchored by a "Lasermobile" that will travel to schools and college campuses.

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