TDmonthly Magazine!
December 2008 | Vol. VII - No. 12


Hollywood ToyBoy: Points for Publicity

Presenting Your Vision to the World

“Keep your eyes open and find someone who fits your vision.”
“Do I look good, or what?” I declaim as I put the finishing touches on my black tie and turn to my assistant. “When I come into that premiere with, with ... what’s her name, again?”

My assistant repeats the name of my actress/arm piece for the evening for the umpteenth time. “Oh, yeah. She’s the one from the horror film with the giant vampire worm, right?” My assistant shakes her head with a hint of reproof.

“Aw, who cares..." I say, "as long as she makes me look good.”

Isn’t that what Hollywood is all about: publicity, PR and flash?

But what does that have to do with the toy biz? Especially a small retailer or startup inventor?


“Oh, sure — the Michael Levines and PMK/HBHs cost anywhere from $3,000 a month on up,” sneers my socialite turned media-maven buddy as she scarfs caviar from a teeny wooden spoon. “But that’s for the full package, sweetie. Anything can use a publicist and needs one. Even if you’re going to sneeze. You just have to go to the right one for sneezes.”

But why? Can’t you just draw some pretty pictures and hawk your wares from a street corner?

“Who will notice you?” laughs a studio exec up-and-comer who met me for a 5:30 a.m. coffee and scone. “One article in a magazine or newspaper is worth years of hard work. And who has the contacts for that — a newbie, or a seasoned vet? Or better yet, what about aditorials ...”

Aditorial: an article that seems to offer sage advice but is really intended to move product.


“Suppose, just suppose,” explained an independent producer I’d run into, literally, with my car in the parking lot of Disney, “you’d built a better mousetrap. Instead of knocking door to door, which, with the cost of gas these days ain’t cheap, you hired a mousetrap PR agent, who had a design firm create an ad campaign that got you noticed at Mousetrap Fair, and then, it was so popular, he got you a deal with a studio to do ‘Battle of the Network Mousetraps’? Suddenly, you’re doing more than building mousetraps.”

So how do you find a mousetrap/sneeze publicist?

“There are a lot of independent people out there who are willing to take on something small and nurture it, make it grow,” pointed out an ex-publicist, producer pal.

“Small or nothing fees at the beginning grow to larger amounts as your merchandise sells. Look in places online, like ToyDirectory. I’ve run into Dana Lambros Stott, who used to be a fashion publicist, then went onto the Betesh Group before going independent. Maggie Louie’s Special Features Media (SFM) is a one-stop consulting firm that will do image development, marketing, publicity, the whole package. Keep your eyes open and find someone who fits your vision. Then sell your vision to them, and they’ll sell it to the rest of the world.”

I caught a vision of my reflection heading out the door to the premiere. Maybe I needed a publicist myself.

Writer's Bio: Mark Zaslove is an entertainment industry veteran in developing content (writing, directing and producing television and feature films) for the major studios, including Disney, Universal and Warner Bros. A two-time Emmy Award winner for writing and recipient of the Humanitas Prize (for writing uplifting human values in television and movies), Mark is also Head of Content Development for Nice Entertainment. Read more articles by this author


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