Toy Association Staff Spotlight
October 30, 2017 | Toy News Tuesday editors recently sat down with Marian Bossard, The Toy Association’s executive vice president of global market events, to talk about the Association’s longstanding trade shows and the significance of recently entering the business-to-consumer event space with Play Fair. Here’s what she had to say…
What are your responsibilities as the executive vice president of global market events?
Simply put, I lead a team focused on creating, organizing, and facilitating opportunities for our members to sell more products, in more markets, more often. This responsibility requires we go beyond our traditional efforts when planning events such as the North American International Toy Fair and Fall Toy Preview.
What is your career background and how has that experience translated to your role at The Toy Association?
After college, I began a 16-year career at Delta Airlines. Even though my primary functions were sales and customer service, Delta provided numerous opportunities for cross-departmental assignments. As a result, I also did travel agent training, worked at the ticket counter, loaded bags onto aircraft, and guided aircraft to and from the gate. Understanding every element of the service we provided and embracing the reality that each job – no matter how glamorous or seemingly menial – is important to the customer experience was critical to the way I matured as a worker. From Delta I went on to work for an exhibit design and fabrication firm, then at a for-profit show organizer. From that position, I had the incredible good luck to find my way to the Toy Manufacturers Association – now called The Toy Association. I have been with The Toy Association for 18 years.
In my current role I wear many hats – from managing a staff of 12 to coordinating with our president and Board on how we can further help our members achieve business success. Having a solid team focused each day on Toy Fair, Fall Toy Preview, and PlayCon has allowed me to also focus my efforts on other initiatives such as ShopToys365.com, the industry’s only digital e-commerce platform. It’s critical that we never take our eye off of our members’ evolving business needs. The days are over when toy companies could rely completely on trade shows to bring their products to market.
This coming weekend, The Toy Association will be hosting the second annual Play Fair in New York City. What is new this year and what can attendees expect?
This year’s event is three-times the size of our last Play Fair in 2016! We have a number of new brands participating – each with their own fun-filled activities that will create memorable and sharable experiences for fans. There is no other media market like New York City and the exposure opportunity for participating brands is nearly unlimited. Attendees will get to enjoy a range of experiences, including: meet-and-greets with WWE superstars, dance lessons with the Radio City Rockettes, Guinness World Record-setting slime production, celebrity crafters, Minecraft virtual reality experiences, a costume parade, and more! It’s going to be a fantastic experience and I am so excited that The Toy Association had the vision to enter the fan space with Play Fair.
Why was it important for The Toy Association to launch a consumer show?
Much of our members’ marketing efforts are consumer-facing and we were all watching the rise in importance of the “Cons” (like the Comic-Cons) for delivering authentic fan experiences to establish and strengthen end-user loyalty. The work of the Association is a reflection of the needs of the membership and creating an industry collective play and entertainment experience was the natural and appropriate response.
What was your favorite toy growing up?
I went through a phase of loving each of these childhood toys:
1. doctor/nurse kit
2. Miss Cookie’s Kitchen Colorforms
3. doll house
4. Tammy doll (however, my dog nearly chewed off Tammy’s foot and I could never get her right shoe to stay on)
5. A printing press with little rubber letters that you had to line up in a narrow channel and crank to print on paper.
I don’t doubt for a minute that the things I played with influenced my dreams. Over the course of my childhood I wanted to be a nurse, a chef, and a reporter, among other professions. I also have a fondness for shoes that stay on my feet.
Play Fair is taking place November 4 to 5 at the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center in New York City. For tickets or more information, visit the Play Fair website. Questions about Toy Association events? Contact Marian Bossard directly (646.520.4853).