NERF Blasters are colourful toy guns that fire foam darts or disks. Traditionally targeted at little boys all over the world, in Germany, Switzerland and Austria, the brand needed a new strategy. Sales in these German-speaking markets were significantly lower than in others due to their historical issues with guns.
Two major wars meant that playing with weapons is not always seen as appropriate for children and parents prefer to buy more educational toys. NERF knew it had to target a new audience in order to drive sales.
It was concluded that young men starting their working lives find sitting at a computer screen all day frustrating and that they might like to let off steam from time to time. This led to its solution: ‘Office Wars’ - five minutes of fun to break up the daily routine before getting back to work. Research showed that the television show ‘Stromberg’ (the German version of ‘The Office’) was the must-watch primetime show for its new target audience.
The main storyline of the series provided a great opportunity for NERF to integrate its brand into the show via product placements. However, this alone wouldn’t be enough, and NERF needed to support the TV show with other activities that would drive its new target consumer to buy NERF Blasters.
On the show, audiences saw a main character chasing his colleague through the office, resulting in his NERF Blaster being confiscated. The integration peaked when a NERF Blaster battle between the Damages Division and the Private Clients Division destroyed half the office. Each episode was backed up with a smart search strategy, directing people to the official Stromberg shop where they could buy the product.
Finally, the brand connected with the show’s fans via its official Facebook page, where 500,000 of them got a message from the main character giving them the chance to win the blasters used on the show.
During Episode One, the integration generated so much demand that it crashed the servers of the official Stromberg Online shop.
Amazon sales for the NERF Blasters featured on the show more than doubled as did sales across the whole range.
The brand generated a massive buzz on Twitter, Facebook and blogs, with thousands of comments and tweets, 92% of which were positive.