The Hasbro Experience

We investigate how Hasbro's Project Chikumbuso has become the catalyst for new innovative ideas


In today's fiercely competitive marketplace, a strategically placed charity logo on a product can act as a gentle push for every customer. Cadbury's did this with their 'Save the Children' campaign , handing over 10% of its 'Wishes' chocolate to the Make-A-Wish-Foundation, which helps terminally ill young people.

Much has been made of the relationship between companies and charities, with the Charities Act 1992 a blurry piece of legislation that often lets companies get away with contributing meagre sums of money to the charities that they represent. This is a problem because companies can look like they're far more charitable than they actually are, which of course increases revenue and a brand's image unfairly if little is being done.

With this in mind, it was refreshing to hear about Hasbro's 'Project Chikumbuso' an innovative program that was labelled 'a noble experiment' by many commentators. Hasbro went into Zambia and used local children, many of which who would eventually profit from the endeavour, to design a toy elephant which would eventually be sold in retail outlets in America and further afield. After help from Hasbro's marketing team, they had a product, a name and a way of helping the children in Zambia.

Hasbro got many celebrities involved to promote the project, including Taylor Swift and Leonardo Di Caprio. Normally such endorsements are often the difference between new products being successful and ill fated but ultimately the project would be a commercial blunder for Hasbro.

It was a new, innovative idea and one that with hindsight should have been distributed through an untraditional channel. At the time however, Hasbro deemed the traditional approach to be more beneficial and as mentioned above, used celebrity endorsements and sold the product through established retailers.

Despite the success that the initiative brought to the people living in Zambia, it wasn't the commercial success that Hasbro had wanted. At the Chief Innovation Officer Summit in New York City, Georgina Melone stated that Project Chikumbuso had however become the catalyst for many new ideas  initiatives that are now in the pipeline.

Although the toy elephants didn't prove to be a commercial success, the project has helped many children in Zambia and is now a platform from which Hasbro want to create new partnerships with charities. All that's left now is to make sure that these initiatives are distributed in an innovative manner which engages with consumers.


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