Taking Aim at the Kids’ Market

The Plain Dealer Business Section Tuesday, December 23, 1997 Taking aim at the kids’ market Two brothers let their inner child run rampant directing a consulting firm that specializes in marketing to children By Marcia Pledger Plain Dealer Reporter Most company executives couldn’t be talked into covering themselves with colorful, childlike adhesive bandages for a photo shoot, let alone volunteer for the task. But take one look at Sidney and Bruce Good’s business cards (complete with the words “Where I Work” next to an arrow pointing to the company’s name) and you know they aren’t your average corporate types. Let’s just say they let their inner child run rampant. After all, that’s how they earn a living running Good Marketing Inc., a Cleveland consulting firm that specializes in marketing to children. The Good brothers not only consult with toy companies such as Tyco Toys Inc., Milton Bradley Co. and Fisher-Price Co., but they also create such products as Gross Outs adhesive bandages. Still, with just a two-person firm, the brothers always turn to the real experts for help – kids. “Before we take any of our concepts out to potential manufacturers or licensees, we show all of our concepts to groups of kids we work with,” said Sidney Good, president. “This is a very subjective business, and it’s easy to think that you have the greatest product in the world, but if you’re marketing to kids, you need to have kids tell you that your assumptions are correct,” he said. “Ultimately, it’s important for kids to tell you that it’s fun.” Most companies focus on expanding existing product lines, making few changes from year to year. The toy business, however, thrives on creating new products. The nature of the toy industry explains why Good Marketing has grown continually since it was founded eight years ago. Sidney Good, 41, started the company after leaving his job as director of marketing for Hasbro in Pawtucket, R.I. He considered starting the business in Chicago but picked Cleveland because he has relatives living here and he found a large pool of creative talent such as graphic designers and toy inventors. He said he was also energized by Cleveland’s business community, especially the Greater Cleveland Growth Association. Good started doing promotional work for several consumer product companies outside Ohio, creating in-store promotions as well as product promotions. He also served as a consultant for Cleveland-based toy manufacturer Creativity For Kids and for Liggett-Stashower, a Cleveland ad agency. Four years after Good launched Good Marketing, Nabisco hired him to help develop a new line of cookies aimed at kids. He recommended names for the cookies and suggested approaches for packaging, promotions and merchandising, but the project was never launched. Good Marketing began to grow when Bruce Good, 35, joined in 1993. He had been working as an account executive in San Francisco at two large ad agencies, DDB Needham and Young & Rubicam. When Bruce joined the company, Good Marketing branched out from being a fee-based promotional and consulting firm to developing new products that generate long-term royalties as well. The company declined to disclose its annual billings. Through the years, Sidney Good had been building resources of toy inventors and product designers that he worked with on various projects, so now he is able to use their skills in creating new products for companies. A Kansas City, Mo., promotion agency first hired the brothers to create two different toys for fastfood kids’ meals. The results of the year-long project: mad monster poppers, monster figures with heads that pop off when squeezed, and monster doh, a Play-Doh-like substance with a monster mold. Upon opening the mold, either fries or a hamburger is revealed in the monster’s stomach. Next the two created an inflatable 98-inch super sea serpent pool toy for ERO Corp. in Chicago. Nearly two years ago, Good Marketing pitched an innovative lollipop to Bedford Heights-based Cap Toys Inc. “Fossil Pop,” which began selling this year in drugstores and mass merchandisers, is a rock candy lollipop on a plastic dinosaur fossil stick. “There continues to be a fascination about dinosaurs, and we wanted to capitalize on that popularity,” said Bruce Good. “After you eat that ball, it’s over with most lollipops. There’s no excitement. We’ve gone from ball to a prehistoric rock that’s fun to eat.” Good Marketing is expanding its clientele by recommending to companies that they can either expand their existing product lines or go after the kid market for the first time. For instance, the company is currently working with Polaroid Corp. in Cambridge, Mass., to develop new products in the kids’ market. Another client, Sarasota, Fla.-based Aso Corp., is one of several companies that makes colorful adhesive strips for younger kids. Now the company makes “Gross Outs,” bandages designed by the Good brothers that appeal to children 5 to 10. But before they approached Aso, the Goods turned to kids to fine-tune the graphics. “Initially, we had more cartoonish characters like a smiling worm. But kids looked at it and said, ‘Yeah, but it’s not gross.’ They said ‘give me something gross and I’ll wear it.’ They helped us to add more realistic graphics like oozing stitches, zipper blood, flies and safety pins. Working as a team, the brothers are confident their business will continue to grow. “This is the best of all worlds,” Sidney Good said. “I get to work with my brother, and we’re having fun creating fun products for other companies.”