Moshi Monsters, the online social-gaming network that aspires to be a Facebook for kids, already has more than 50 million players around the world, with a new kid signing up every second. More than half of all 6-to-12-year-olds in the U.K. -- where the game started and is most entrenched -- have adopted at least one pet monster, called a Moshling.
Ed Relf, the brand's chief marketing officer and chief operating officer, has huge ambitions for the brand. "The overall plan is to build Moshi Monsters into one of the world's largest global trans-media properties," he said.
Based in the area of East London known as Silicon Roundabout, Moshi Monsters started as an online game, where players adopt a pet monster, customize it and then navigate their way around Monstro City, taking the daily puzzle challenge to earn the virtual currency, Rox. On the way they play games, solve Super Moshi Missions, personalize their pet's home, show off their artwork, read stories and communicate with friends. The site is updated with new content every Friday to keep it fresh. Playing the game is free, but an $8 a month subscription buys a lot of extras.
The transition into the offline world has been hugely successful, helping Moshi Monsters and its 100 licensees turn the brand into a global phenomenon. There are tiny collectable toys, board games, cuddly monsters, a giant Moshling Treehouse, a magazine, a DS game called Moshling Zoo, books and trading cards. And next year we can expect a new TV platform and a Moshi movie.
Then there is the music. Moshi Monsters is releasing an album and planning a live tour for next year. A new video is posted each month on its own dedicated YouTube channel, with most videos getting two or three million hits. The only glitch has been successful legal action from Lady Gaga, who objected to a Moshling pet called Lady Goo Goo putting out records.
Mr. Relf explained, "The virtual world is still the beating heart of the brand, and everything else we do is about driving re-engagement back to the site."
Moshi Monsters takes a fiercely metrics-oriented approach to marketing the brand, with every aspect of each campaign monitored in detail: the effects of the slightest tweak to colors or font sizes is instantly picked up and immediately used to improve responses.
The next step in global domination is to launch the site in languages other than English, starting with Spanish early next year. "This is a great British success story and it's magical to be a part of it," Mr. Relf said.