Kirsten Koe: Do you have what it takes to Hunt A Killer?

by The Bloom Report | 07 May 2023

Biographies and Interviews



Hi, Kirsten! Thank you for takin time to chat with us! Do you have a mantra that you live by?

Fail fast, learn fast, iterate fast. Keep trying until you succeed.  One of the company's cultural values that I particularly admire is "We do the right thing."


Why and how did you get into the Toy and Game industry?

I stumbled into the industry as a marketing director at Sears & Kmart and took an open role in the Toys & Sporting Goods business unit.  Through this role, I had the incredible opportunity to attend events like the NY Toy Fair, Comic Con and the Licensing Show, and visit the headquarters of major toy companies like Hasbro and Mattel. It felt like being a kid in Willy Wonka's factory. Plus, working at Kmart meant I was involved in creating the groundbreaking and first of its kind Fab 15 Hot Toy List and securing the only retail exclusive Holiday Barbie. It was truly a marketer's dream come true.



What are you working on now?

My role involves spearheading the retail expansion efforts for Hunt A Killer, an adult board game company that has established itself as the foremost provider of narrative games in a newly defined category within the retail board game aisle.  My objective is to establish Hunt A Killer as a household name and effectively engage with our target audience. This remarkable product is ideal for individuals seeking an immersive and challenging experience, and those eager to apply and develop their problem-solving skills.


What trends do you see in toys or games that excite you?

We have seen tremendous growth within the adult board game space.  I am honored to be on the shelf in mass retailers next to companies that have brought board games to the kitchen table on a Friday night for adults such as Cards Against Humanity, Exploding Kittens, and Catan. In this era of streaming and social media, board games are an excellent means to connect and engage with friends and loved ones, while also having a fun and immersive experience in the comfort of your own home.  It's also in this challenging economic environment a fantastic way to save some cash without sacrificing any of the fun and excitement of going out!


What is the most rewarding part of your job?

The most rewarding part of my job is being the final piece of the puzzle. Working alongside an amazing creative team, I have the responsibility of showing the games they have designed to our consumers through marketing efforts. It's a job I take very seriously, but one that I also thoroughly enjoy.


What is the worst job you’ve ever had and what did you learn from it?

In some past work experiences, I have found myself in a toxic work environment where communication, trust, and support were lacking from the leadership team. This made it challenging for me to perform at my best, despite enjoying working with my colleagues. I often felt undervalued in these negative work cultures. However, these experiences taught me the importance of a positive work environment that values open communication, trust, and support. I now prioritize finding companies that foster these qualities, and I am grateful to currently work for a company with a great leadership team that embodies them.


What was the first marketing campaign that left an impression on you?

I have two:  The first was Arm & Hammer Baking Soda – I will always remember how brilliant it was to transform a baking product into a fridge deodorizer.  The second was Hotmail – and how they indirectly turned all their users into brand advocates with a simple brand statement at the bottom of every email sent.


Where do you come up with your best ideas?

During the pandemic, like millions of others, I worked from home and felt the consistent need to be online. However, with my recent job change and focus on adopting healthier habits, I've made it a priority to go for a run or walk. This new routine has led me to a recent realization: exercise provides me with the time and space to reflect, generate new ideas, and allow my mind to wander. It has been an effective way for me to come up with some great ideas.


What do you read every day, and why?

The way I approach this question has transformed into incorporating podcasts during my morning dog walk. I begin each day by listening to NPR's "Up First" and the New York Times' "The Daily" to gain insight into the most significant current events. Next, I tune in to "TBOY" for my daily dose of financial news. For fellow marketers, I highly recommend Jim Stengel's "The CMO Podcast" for valuable insights from successful marketers. Lastly, I enjoy listening to "Smartless," which makes me feel as if I am friends with celebrities.



Who is the person you most admire?

My husband.  Every day, my husband wakes up with a contagious positive energy that spreads throughout the room. He may not seek attention, but when he speaks, he always says the most amusing or insightful things. He can whip up the tastiest cocktails and curate the most upbeat playlists. Most importantly, he inspires me to be a better person and supports me unconditionally. I aspire to have his admirable qualities and am grateful to have him as my partner.


Who has been the most influential role model in your career?

I was lucky, during my time at Sears, I got to work alongside and learn from some of the greats, which I was not fully aware of until the band fell apart. Sears was organized as business silos with each business unit having their own leadership team. Look these people up on LinkedIn, follow them, you won’t regret it.  Thank you Dave Shellenberger, Peter Boutros, Julia Fitzgerald, Audrey Broxterman, Ian Gomar, Eddie Combs, Amy Parker, Jen Dominiquini – you are all truly inspirational marketing leaders that continue to evolve and do amazing work.


What’s on your bucket list?

On my bucket list, I have attending the Winter Olympics, Summer Olympics, and/or World Cup, as well as visiting Croatia and the Maldives. I also dream of being a contestant on the Price is Right and having dinner with Justin Timberlake. Lastly, I've always imagined owning a cheese shop art gallery, although I know it's a bit of a far-fetched idea that combines two of my passions.



In your spare time, what do you like to do?

Travel to places that take your breath away or you can get lost through exploration.  Go for long walks or short runs.  Be with family, friends, husband (Pete) and Dog (Hank) - not in that order.


Favorite movies?

I will watch any John Hughes movie even with the commercials if I am looking for some downtime and flipping thru the channels.  Caddyshack and Shawshank Redemption would have to be my all-time favorites. 


Do you have any special talents?

I am really good at Whack-A-Mole and I can recite all 50 states in alphabetical order in less than a minute.


Anything else you would like to add?

Don't miss out on our two thrilling new retail games, Homicide at the Heist and R.I.P. at the Rodeo, hitting shelves this July! These games are not just your ordinary board games. They offer an immersive experience where you get to play detective and solve a murder mystery. You'll encounter intriguing characters, authentic evidence, and a plot that evolves with each bit of evidence you uncover. So put your detective skills to the test and uncover the killer's motive, means, and opportunity. Do you have what it takes to Hunt A Killer?


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