Sugar and Mahjong
Mahjong Anyone?
YTV & Irwin In Co-op Deal

Canada's YTV Network & Irwin Toys have started a cooperative deal where Irwin Toys will be promoted on the network and its website. The companies came to the agreement in light of declining toy sales (especially the Sailor Moon line) and reduced ad rates (what networks charge to advertisers for commercial time). Co-op deals allow advertisers to retain an on-air presence and give networks something to interest viewers.

On Friday, December 14th's airing of The Zone, Stephanie Beard announced (5 days late) a contest where viewers will be able to play some online games and win toys (from Irwin) as prizes. One of the prizes includes a special edition Sailor Saturn doll! The contest ends on Sunday, December 23 and is for Canadians only. Ms. Beard also displayed the new Sailor Saturn and Sailor Uranus dolls.

There are two games, a Dragonball Z game and a Sailor Moon Shanghai game. Why "Shanghai"? Because it's basically a mahjong game with this version very much like mahjong solitaire on Yahoo Games. (Perhaps it is the same engine?) It's a memory game in which cards are arranged in a big pile and you have to find pairs. Here's a couple of hints: The flower cards have no identical match, put any two flowers together and you'll get a pair. The same goes with the elements, moon, heart, water and stars.

Fans will note the prominent usage of the Lunasphere on the contest site. While Irwin appreciated our requests that fans buy this new, gender free toy, the company was nevertheless disappointed that sales have remained low and (as with the dolls) heavily female. Dragonball Z's Action Figures, by comparison, attract far more males and have had much larger sales. In anticipation of the contest we removed the Lunasphere from our homepage so that Irwin could better track the affect of the co-op deal with YTV. Irwin will also be looking at how the co-op deal influences sales of both lines.

YTV's online contest somewhat follows the Cartoon Network's recent endeavors in the United Sates, namely, using the Internet as a way to keep viewer loyalty and gauge fan interest.

Irwin has also completed revamping its website--correcting most of the problems raised several months ago. The new site is so much better in its simplicity! Finally, one can easily see and access all the toy lines plus find out where to buy them! (Will wonders ever cease!) They've also rolled out their new slogan, "Irwin Toys: For the fun of it." ("IT" meaning Irwin Toys.)

Irwin is attempting to engage in better communication with its customers via a "Secret Toy Box" (a mailing list) and more importantly, a "Wish List" to compare kids' interest vs. actual sales.

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