Archive for February, 2012
Posted at 2:39 pm in News
RALEIGH, N.C., Feb. 17, 2011 – Howard, Merrell & Partners was recently named the agency of record for the Step2® Holdings Company, LLC – and its Step2® and Infantino® brands that foster learning and development through creative play in children from birth to school-age years. Howard, Merrell & Partners will provide brand management support, integrated marketing collaboration, public relations and social media, event planning, and creative development.
“We need an agency that can look at our business strategically and execute upon that knowledge in an integrated fashion across multiple marketing disciplines,” said Jerry McDermott, chief marketing officer, Step2® Holdings. “Howard, Merrell & Partners possesses a long and outstanding track record of seamlessly integrating marketing activities into unified campaigns that strengthen brands. We are looking forward to this partnership.”
Over the last six decades, Howard, Merrell & Partners has developed and implemented dozens of successful campaigns and programs for magnet brands including enMotion®, Butterball, CORDURA® brand fabric, MacGregor golf, SAS, BB&T, Dixie®, Cisco, Baush & Lomb, and Scott Paper. The agency acts as a true partner, and its clients have benefited greatly from the passion and collaboration behind every campaign.
Howard, Merrell & Partners will help Step2® and Infantino® solidify their recognition among consumers as the company that listens to moms and develops innovative products of the highest quality that encourage creative play. The agency will work closely with marketing team of Step2® and Infantino® to develop and implement marketing programs that raise visibility for the company’s award-winning products and underscore its commitment to safety, unsurpassed service and support, and long-standing history.
“Research shows that moms respond to brands that listen and provide value beyond the product,” said Jim Cobb, president and chief executive officer of Howard, Merrell & Partners. “Our team of moms, hands-on dads and folks who love children, is looking forward to helping Step2® and Infantino® strengthen their market leading position through insights into early childhood development and the role of creative play.”
According to Cobb, the agency’s experience has proven that having all disciplines working together, day-to-day, is the most effective way to achieve marketing synergies and integration for the brands it serves.
“Our people are experienced, committed, innovative and creative. They deliver award-winning work and have helped our clients consistently achieve superior marketing performance and ultimately better financial results,” he continues. “We know The Step2® Company will also benefit from our integrated approach and partnership.”
About Howard, Merrell & Partners
Founded 65 years ago in Raleigh, N.C., Howard, Merrell & Partners Inc., is a pioneer in understanding and applying the power of human emotion to develop engaging business and communications strategies. Agency services include branding, creative development and production, consumer insight research, event planning and management, interactive, Hispanic marketing, media asset management, public relations, and social media.
STREETSBORO, OHIO – February 7, 2012 – Toddlers and parents who love the outdoors will be delighted by the latest wagon options from Step2®. The All Around Wagon™ and All Around Canopy Wagon™ convert from sit in to flatbed and include a newly designed “trunk” for excursions where storage is a must. Additionally, by special request, a third wagon – Wagon for Two™ – is available in pink.
“We listened to feedback from moms and made some improvements. We’re excited about the innovation that resulted in both the All Around Wagon™ and version with Canopy,” said Jerry McDermott, chief marketing officer, Step2® Holdings. “Our goal was to give moms everything they needed in a box. Storage was key since moms were looking for a way to store and access belongings while their child remains seated in the wagon – a need which gave way to the rear storage trunk.”
The multi-function All Around Wagon™ (MSRP $79.99) includes six cup and snack holders (two on the exterior for mom) and maintains the brand’s popular easy access door feature. The Whisper Wheels help ensure a smooth and quiet ride for the child and the easy pull handle design ensures comfort for the rider and puller.
Offering the same features as the All Around Wagon™, the All Around Canopy Wagon™, (MSRP $99.99) sold exclusively through Costco in 2012, is a great solution for families that enjoy leisurely outings and value the added protection from the sun. The fabric canopy is durable and offers both shade and UV protection.
“Our research showed that while red was still a favorite, there is an interest in pink,” continued McDermott. Girls will be tickled pink, literally, to get a ride in the Wagon for Two™ (MSRP $69.99), available exclusively through Toys “R” Us in 2012. The wagon’s easy-latch door opens to two contoured seats and deep leg well with molded-in drain holes. The long handle facilitates pulling and folds under the wagon for easy transport and storage.
All three products require minimal adult assembly and include two seat belts. Like other Step2® products, the wagons feature sturdy polyethylene construction that will last through multiple children and is easy to clean. Plus, molded-in color won’t chip or peel.
The new wagons, which are being unveiled in the U.S. at the New York Toy Fair, Feb. 12-15, will be available at retail beginning in the Summer of 2012. Show attendees can get a sneak peek of the latest wagon models at the Step2® booth (booth #1373).
STREETSBORO, OHIO – February 7, 2012 – The knowledge that more and more moms are using push-style ride-ons during everyday outings with their toddlers, led the Step2® team to introduce its brand-new Easy Steer Sportster™ and the Whisper Ride™ II models to make them more portable and ergonomic. The updated, sleek automotive designs also will satisfy parents interested in a more realistic look.
“We are constantly speaking to our customers, mothers, who can evaluate our products and help us improve them,” said Jerry McDermott, chief marketing officer, Step2® Holdings. “The most remarkable upgraded feature of our new Easy Steer Sportster™ is now it is easier to maneuver and turn. We think moms will be equally appreciative about the fold-under handle that comes on both models allowing these ride-ons to easily fit into the trunk of a car.”
The 360-steer maneuverability in the Easy Steer Sportster™ is accomplished with full turn front wheels and a center caster wheel that engages for easy swivel turning. The caster wheel can also retract for riding on rough terrain. The hood opens to reveal a storage space perfect for snacks or supplies. Additionally, the Easy Steer Sportster™ features a cup holder and in-dash phone holder as well as a cup holder for adults right in the handle, that pivots and stays level with the ground. The little chauffeur will enjoy the steering wheel complete with “beep beep” horn sounds.
The stylish Whisper Ride™ II also features a folding handle that facilitates car transport, as well as two cup holders – one for the child and one for the parent. Both models feature a seat belt and Whisper Wheels™ for a smooth quiet ride.
Easy Steer Sportster™ (MSRP $ 69.99) and Whisper Ride™ II (MSRP$ 59.99) are being unveiled in the U.S. at the New York Toy Fair, Feb. 12-15. Both will be available at retail during the Summer of 2012. Show attendees will be able to see these and other ride ons at the Step2® booth (booth #1373).
STREETSBORO, OHIO – February 7, 2012 – The Step2® Company brings the beach to any backyard with the newest sand and water table designs. The Tropical Island Resort™, Big Splash Water Park™ and Splash and Scoop Bay™ provide open water play and interesting features to enrich imagination and expand creativity.
“Through focus groups, reviews, and MomShare™, our online community of thousands of Step2® brand enthusiasts, we’ve learned so much about sand and water play,” said Jerry McDermott, chief marketing officer, Step2® Holdings. “The newest tables offer updated features for open water play, stationery accessories and clear partitions for sand and water to prevent mixing.”
Tropical Island Resort™ – This exciting water play table transports kids to an imaginary island for refreshing fun in the sun. A pump and geyser, spin around water wheel carousel and slide and diving board for play characters provide toddlers an interactive setting for cool summer fun that multiple children can enjoy simultaneously. The Tropical Island Resort™ comes with a 14-piece accessory set.
“The core of this table always stays attached so the play value remains even if accessories are lost,” continued McDermott. “We also know that moms appreciate open water play and so we kept one end of this table open for children to splash around and use their imagination.”
Big Splash Water Park™ – The Big Splash Water Park™ provides children with the “action / reaction” play that keeps them engaged. Children will enjoy filling the oversized bucket on top of the tower with water and activating the spinning water wheel and water slide. The Big Splash Water Park™ includes a six-piece accessory set with catapult, waterslide and more.
Splash and Scoop Bay™ – This table was created to hold sand, water or both. The Splash and Scoop Bay™ provides a mom-pleasing cover that protects sand from pets and debris and doubles as an added play surface. “We know that mom doesn’t like mixing sand and water,” added McDermott. “So we created the only play table that has a cover with play value.” When playing with the water-side of the table, the tower can be placed atop the mountain cover creating a big waterfall, all while keeping the water out of the sand.
The new sand and water tables are durable and are made to withstand normal outdoor weather conditions. They are constructed of sturdy resin, which will last through multiple children and are easy to clean. The new Tropical Island Resort™ (MSRP $79.99), Big Splash Water Park™ (MSRP $39.99) and Splash and Scoop Bay™ (MSRP $49.99), which are being unveiled in the U.S. at the New York Toy Fair, Feb. 12-15, are shipping and available for purchase. Show attendees will be able to see the sand and water tables at the Step2® booth (booth #1373).
STREETSBORO, OHIO – February 7, 2012 – One of the joys of childhood is observing and imitating parents in their daily activities. The new Grand Walk-In Kitchen & Grill™ by Step2® offers all the features adults desire in their real kitchens – grill, stovetop, “stainless steel” refrigerator, etc. – to engage little chefs and help them to establish awareness about proper eating habits through play.
“At Step2®, we believe that kitchens are among the most meaningful products we offer that encourage social interaction between children and parents,” said Jerry McDermott, chief marketing officer, Step2® Holdings. “Kitchens give children the opportunity to explore food combinations and ‘cook’ meals for their parents; which in turn supports the idea of dining at home and preparing balanced meals essential for proper growth and development.”
The Grand Walk-In Kitchen & Grill™ (MSRP $259.99) offers all the bells-and-whistles and has room for multiple children to play inside and out. The exterior provides an attached dining area and realistic electronic grill. Two additional electronic features include the stove top and phone. A 104-piece accessory set is included, and the kitchen was designed with plenty of storage to keep the kitchenware and play food organized – whether it be in the “stainless steel” refrigerator, oven, basket cubbies or below the grill.
The electronic features require 4 “AA” and 2 “AAA” batteries (not included).
The Grand Walk-In Kitchen & Grill™ will be unveiled in the U.S. at the New York Toy Fair, Feb. 12-15. It will be available exclusively at Toys “R” Us. Show attendees will be able to see this and other kitchens at the Step2® booth (booth #1373)
STREETSBORO, OHIO – February 7, 2012 – Toddlers and parents who love cars will be delighted by the new Step2® Corvette Bed, which accommodates a toddler mattress and easily converts to hold a twin mattress, extending the life of this product for toddlers age 2 to about age 10.
“The Corvette bed, as well as each complementing piece, is designed with authenticity in mind,” said Jerry McDermott, chief marketing officer, Step2® Holdings. “Step2® is the first toy maker to create such a realistic looking toddler car bed, and who better to partner with than Corvette, an iconic American brand.
We anticipate parents and children being very excited about this fun product line.” Modeled after the renowned Corvette Z06 this red Step2® racing bed, MSRP $299, features silver rims and realistic details. The upgraded Corvette Bed with Lights™ model, MSRP $329, also comes equipped with working headlights that turn on with a tap. When a toddler mattress is in place, children will enjoy the built-in racetrack in either model.
The entire line design and colors match the Corvette bed and all items are durable and will last through multiple children. The full line is constructed of sturdy polyethylene and is easy to clean. Some of the products require adult assembly.
The additional items completing the bedroom theme are as follows:
Corvette Tool Chest Dresser — The dresser makes organizing fun. Doors open to reveal a large interior with a tool chest style that is complemented with racing decals for customization. MSRP: $109.99.
Corvette Storage Chest — Parents looking for a versatile storage chest may find what they need in the Corvette-themed storage chest, which is complete with shelf top display and spacious internal storage that can house toys, clothes or books. MSRP: $ 64.99.
Corvette Lift & Toll Toy Box — More than three feet of storage accommodates toys, books, games or clothes in this box. It is made to help speed up the clean-up process. An easy to grasp lift handle offers the flexibility to transport anywhere and durable molded wheels won’t scratch floors. MSRP: $39.99.
The new line, which is being unveiled in the U.S. at the New York Toy Fair, Feb. 12-15, will be available at retail during the Summer of 2012. Show attendees will be able to see the Corvette bed at the Step2® booth (booth #1373).