NEW YORK — Hudson, Ohio-based Little Tikes Co. will launch its first television advertising campaign this year with a budget of $8 million in conjunction with a new Walt Disney Co. license partnership.
``The lion's share of that will be spent in the fourth quarter,'' said Cal Eller, Little Tikes president and chief operating officer.
Little Tikes released the news Feb. 6, just before the American International Toy Fair, held Feb. 13-16 in New York.
Eller, a former retail chain store executive who was named Little Tikes president in August, said Feb. 20 that Disney's Winnie-the-Pooh character will brand Little Tikes' outdoor toys. Ride-on products will feature Mickey Mouse.
Janet Dye, Little Tikes director of marketing services, declined to disclose details of the agreement, as did a spokeswoman for Burbank, Calif.-based Disney.
``We're looking at a six- to eight-week period in the fourth quarter of 1998 for television'' advertising, Dye said, adding that a print campaign has not been finalized.
The advertising is being directed by Martin/Williams Advertising Agency in Minneapolis, the new advertising agency for Little Tikes' parent firm, Rubbermaid Inc. of Wooster, Ohio. The agency was selected in December.
``We plan to be very aggressive in spring 1999 as well,'' Eller said. ``We've a lot of new items planned. We've got a lot of things in the pipeline right now, products and partnerships.''
Eller said the company is not ready to disclose what the items include, but did say that Little Tikes marketing and product development managers went to Disney in California the week of Feb. 26 for further discussions.
Industry analysts and toy show attendees were uniform in applauding the Little Tikes announcement, noting that the ad campaign and licensing agreement will help drive consumer demand for Little Tikes toys.