Loved Transformers? Can’t wait to see the upcoming GI Joe? Don’t worry – there’s more – a lot more — where that came from.
Stephen J. Davis has been named president of Hasbro’s new Los Angeles-based TV studio, Hasbro Studios, and he’s charged with taking Hasbro’s many nostalgic brands and turning them into today’s hottest TV, Web and multimedia properties.
“Hasbro has no shortage of iconic and highly popular brands that we are going to be reimagining, reinventing and reigniting,” says Davis.
Those brands include Romper Room, Trivial Pursuit, Scrabble, Cranium, My Little Pony, G.I. Joe, Game of Life, Monopoly, Tonka and Transformers. Davis and Hasbro Studios will be in charge of turning those brands into compelling TV shows for Hasbro and Discovery’s joint venture, a cable network that will take the place of what is now Discovery Kids. That channel is slated to launch next fall
Transformers – which Hasbro brought to the U.S. from Japan in 1984 – is the brand that demonstrates what’s possible. The two Transformers films can now be considered a blockbuster movie series, having earned more than $1.5 billion worldwide. Hasbro hopes it’s poised to do that again this weekend, when the toy-company-turned-wannabe-media powerhouse releases G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra, a reimagining of “the real American hero” that looks more like Robert Downey Jr.’s Iron Man than the camouflage-wearing soldier from the eighties.
While Transformers is a clear blockbuster, Hasbro has had mixed luck turning its brands into TV and feature film content. Last fall Hasbro teamed with Debmar-Mercury to turn Trivial Pursuit: America Plays into a syndicated TV show that fell flat on its face.
Still, Davis likes his options when it comes to Hasbro’s brands, which he believes will attract fans because they are known commodities with a great deal of nostalgic appeal: “It’s about making great quality content, while taking advantage of the pre-sell nature that these brands have in the marketplace. My challenge is to be sure that we create the best possible programming around these brands.”
While Davis joins the rest of the TV industry in trying to figure out what that new economic model looks like, Davis is bullish on television. “From my perspective, TV still represents the greatest opportunity to attract the largest number of eyeballs. TV also still is the best vehicle around which to expand brands. It’s regular and reliable.
“Ultimately, I think that really good programming finds a home and an audience. If we make really high-quality programming around those brands, we are going to attract a very large audience and create an economic proposition that’s beneficial. Good programming finds an audience and makes its medium increasingly irrelevant,” he says.
Davis comes to Hasbro with experience both in converting brands into TV shows and in digital media. Prior to joining Hasbro, he was CEO of Family Entertainment Group, which was another production company aimed at turning brands into successful TV shows and multi-platform ventures. Before that, he was president of mobile and online media at InfoSpace and president of Granada America.
Davis is on NATPE’s board of directors and executive committee, where he served two terms as its co-chairman. He also serves on PCI: Media Impact’s board of directors and executive committee. Davis is a member of the board of directors of Single Point, a leading mobile messaging and iTVcompany and is a member of the Board of the Hollywood Radio and Television Society (HRTS).