Old favourite, new app: Hasbro’s Kristin McKay reveals why the future’s bright for PEPPA PIG

“There’s so much to look forward to!” Kristin McKay on the latest and greatest PEPPA PIG ventures

Hi Kristin! Thanks for making time… For those not in the know, who are you… And what’s your role?
My name is Kristin McKay and I’m the Senior Vice President and General Manager of Hasbro’s fashion and preschool portfolio.

Perfect, thank you! And pertaining to PEPPA PIG what are your responsibilities?
As it relates to the Queen of Preschool, my team is based in both the UK and the US and drives global franchise strategies, content development, toy development and marketing plans. It’s incredible to have passionate and intelligent experts planning for, and delivering, PEPPA PIG success – there are some very exciting moments for the brand ahead.

Given that PEPPA is 20, how do you keep the brand fresh?
As we celebrate the brand’s 20th anniversary this year, PEPPA PIG remains a cultural icon with an expansive footprint across entertainment, toys, fashion and more. By identifying and capitalising on opportunities to grow the brand and put PEPPA in areas she hasn’t been in before, we’re able to continue surprising and delighting families all around the globe.

Is there an example of that that comes to mind?
One good example this year is the release of PEPPA’s first-ever cover song, Roar. That follows the debut of the three-part PEPPA PIG Wedding Party Special featuring superstar voices Katy Perry and Orlando Bloom.

In a true testament to PEPPA’s continued resonance with families everywhere, we’ve also released adorable collaborations with Jojo Maman Bebe, Trotters and Melissa Footwear, so preschoolers can wear their love for their best friend PEPPA. Peppa and her family even got their own stamp set from Royal Mail!

Kristin McKay, Hasbro, Peppa Pig, Toys & Games

Oh, yes! They’re great… I’ll put an image of those in here. You also have new developments in brand experiences…
Yes, we’ve provided families with new ways to experience the brand in person with our location-based entertainment business – fuelled by continued consumer demand for PEPPA. Following the success of the PEPPA PIG Theme Park in Florida, we’re ecstatic to open one location in Germany and another in Texas this year. With these landmark openings, fans can meet and play with their favourite piggy as they build lifelong memories with their families.

Another upcoming 2024 release is the PEPPA PIG DUPLO range. It looks fantastic. How did it come about?
Thanks for asking! That was such an exciting product line for us… It not only brought together two powerhouse names in the preschool space with LEGO DUPLO and PEPPA PIG, but also created an opportunity to go beyond just the products themselves and include new content and experiences. Designed for little ones aged two years and older, the LEGO DUPLO PEPPA PIG sets are based on iconic scenes and characters from the beloved show that inspire role-play and creativity…

Adding to the fun, we teamed up with branded-entertainment-destination leader Merlin Entertainments to create LEGO DUPLO PEPPA PIG play areas at some of their select attractions within theme parks. Families can now enjoy all things LEGO DUPLO PEPPA PIG at LEGOLAND Billund and at the new PEPPA PIG Theme Park in Germany. We also brought the fun to the digital realm with the LEGO DUPLO PEPPA PIG app which will be globally availably at the end of May

An app, did you say? What does the app do?
It provides preschoolers with a fun and safe digital play experience where they can build, play, and learn on fun adventures with PEPPA. Finally, we’ve developed a bespoke YouTube content series of stories and songs featuring the LEGO DUPLO PEPPA PIG sets, brought to life in animation to encourage play narratives for our preschoolers and their parents.

Kristin McKay, Hasbro, Peppa Pig, Toys & Games

What other future plans or growth opportunities can you discuss with us, Kristin?
There’s so much to look forward to for PEPPA PIG as we embark on the next 20 years! We’re deeply committed to maintaining relevance and evolving with families of today and just completed a multi-market consumer insights study to inform our path forward. While we’re currently tightlipped and can’t yet share exactly what the major beats entail, we hope you’re ready to ‘jump in’ with us on this new adventure! What I can say is that growth opportunities are countless, not just for our core Peppa business, but also our infant and educational brand extensions Grow with Peppa and Learn with Peppa.

How did you come to be at Hasbro, Kristin? What’s your background?
I have a pretty unique background that might not be what you expect from someone in my role!

Nicely trailed! I’m all ears…
Well… While getting my bachelor’s degree at Syracuse University, I was a member of the cheerleading team, which not only gave me a strong love for the sport but also developed a deep passion for coaching that I’ve had my entire adult life. Early on in my professional career, I spent time as a cheerleading coach at both the high school and collegiate level – most notably at Harvard University – while also working as a Paralegal in a law firm. My Harvard athletes inspired me to go back to get my MBA, which ultimately led to my first role at Hasbro as a Summer Intern! This evolved into a full-time role upon graduation, where I spent five years on the Play-Doh brand team…

Since then, I’ve moved on to several different roles within Hasbro, gaining brand building, product development and commercial go-to-market experience leading brands like My Little Pony, Transformers, and Baby Alive. Through that, I’ve developed a deep understanding of the female consumer which led to me transitioning in 2020 to lead the Global Brand Strategy for our Dolls and Collectibles categories…

Kristin McKay, Hasbro, Peppa Pig, Toys & Games

Things like what? My Little Pony and Littlest Pet Shop?
Right. After serving nearly three years as the Vice President of Global Brands, Fashion, I was promoted into my current role as the SVP and General Manager, Global Brands for Fashion and Preschool and took on the beloved responsibility of shepherding PEPPA PIG through her 20th anniversary and beyond.

Fantastic. That all feels like it makes sense in a way because I’ve heard you described as creative, intelligent and resilient… It’s also said that you’re a great team player. What’s your philosophy on leading a team?
Thank you for saying that. Those values have been instilled in me for a long time dating back to first my gymnastics and then my cheerleading days. Cheerleading asks a lot of its athletes to be creative, intelligent, resilient and that you must excel individually to be able to successfully work together as a team.

As it relates to my leadership philosophy, I’m a coach at heart so I’m always looking to motivate, inspire, and help build skills and confidence within my team members. At the end of the day, I want to inspire greatness in the teams I work on. All of us are capable of great things, but sometimes we just need a nudge in the right direction – and my goal is to always provide that push.

Kristin McKay, Hasbro, Peppa Pig, Toys & Games

Great answer, thank you. What’s the one thing I could’ve asked you today but didn’t?
How does product innovation keep the PEPPA PIG brand fresh?

And what’s the answer?
The products we develop start with consumer insights, and are inspired by the content… It’s all about bringing these special, on-screen characters – with which preschoolers connect so well – to life in unexpected ways that can create magic moments. For example, we learned through research that PEPPA is a preschooler’s first best friend, but kids were missing that 1:1 physical connection with the character…

Fans wanted to interact with their friend?!
Exactly right. It was from this information that we developed Muddy Puddles Party Peppa. This is an interactive Peppa doll that has over 55 sounds and phrases and can talk, sing, dance, and jump in muddy puddles. The interactive, one-to-one connection comes from the product reacting to the way kids play… For example, they can unlock additional phrases and songs when they put Peppa’s Wellies on – so they’re totally in control!

Our products are also born from unique, ownable experiences that only the PEPPA PIG brand can deliver, like our two-in-one Peppa Party Bus Playset. One of the exciting things about Peppa is her British heritage and charm, and there is nothing more iconic than a red double decker bus. Preschoolers are at an age where surprise and delight through discovery is magical to them. Knowing this, we combined an iconic British symbol from content and not only made a toy vehicle out of it but also delivered the surprise of opening the bus up to a playset. With Peppa’s friends and fun accessories turning it into a party, we’re delivering a new way to enjoy Peppa at home.

Brilliant, Kristin. Thank you so much for that. I’ll be sure to include some images of these things so people can really see what we’re talking about. Thank you again.

Kristin McKay, Hasbro, Peppa Pig, Toys & Games

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