Toy Stories Chapter 6: Zzand

by Paul Fish | 26 Apr 2021

Industry Commentary, Op-Ed

I am posting some anecdotes about a number of my favorite toys I've worked on in my career.

Toy Stories Chapter 6: Zzand!

Desperately trying to keep the Nick compounds business alive, we introduced Zzand! “A sand-like substance that molds like dough.” The extra Z was for attitude! The product had some “If you can’t fix it, feature it” elements, to be sure. First, the product dried out if left out, so we promoted that kids could make “these permanent art creations to display!” A mistake was also made in the design process whereby the product’s container was sculpted to a size larger than what we could deliver for the promised price. So, we advertised it as a “special introductory size! 25% more Zzand!” while we sculpted and tooled the new size. Finally, we learned in testing that kids thought Zzand was just OK, and we didn’t have a backup, so we decided to dial up the marketing with a kick-ass commercial.

And our agency, FCB, delivered! We shot two days in Vancouver, including an overnighter on location, with a crazy cast of dozens. I even portrayed a scientist in one scene, though the version without me tested better, so I had to make the decision to cut myself out! The commercial won a Mobius Award for Outstanding Creativity, and, most importantly, the product sold-through with no mark-downs, and the Nickelodeon branded compounds business lived on!

Brought to you by Pablo Pescado

Specializing in frivolous products

& Getting new brands off the ground

ToyStories Nickelodeon Zzand

Tait & Lily, Inventors of Betcha Can't!