With more than 10 million units sold in one year, Poo-Chi is rated by NPD Group's toy tracking service as the top dog in the robotic pet market. Hasbro's Tiger Electronics can create a dog whose eyes light up like hearts or who barks to Beethoven's Ninth Symphony, but the company-in particular Marc Rosenberg-is just as talented at creating buzz around its products. To launch the toy, Mr. Rosenberg, Tiger's 36-year-old senior VP-marketing, arranged for 2000 Iditarod champ Doug Swingley to deliver the first litter of Poo-Chis to New York's F.A.O. Schwarz via his dogsled team in April 2000.
"The world's coolest dogs delivering the world's hottest dogs," went the event's slogan. So cool an event that NBC's "Today" picked up the stunt. Not coincidentally, more than 1,000 robotic pooches were sold in the store's opening hours. "We got lucky with the 'Today' show," admits Mr. Rosenberg, who started with Tiger 10 years ago as public relations manager. "But we were on a roll coming off the huge success of Furby that made Tiger the company to look at first."
Mr. Rosenberg also aggressively lined up promotions with McDonald's Corp. and General Cinema Corp., while working with New York ad agency Posnick & Kolker on TV creative, which runs on network and cable. Tiger also runs limited print ads; spending is undisclosed.
"The key to Poo-Chi is its potential to interact with other Robo-Chis," explains Mr. Rosenberg. "That means huge potential to extend the brand." And that's exactly what the company is doing. Tiger will soon introduce a slew of new playmates for Poo-Chi, including Chirpy-Chi, Dino-Chi and Meow-Chi. The company this fall plans a major promotion with PepsiCo's Quaker Oats Co., which will launch a variation of Cap'n Crunch to introduce the new members of the Robo-Chi family. "People can't wait to see what's next to come out," says Mr. Rosenberg. "And that's a great position to be in."