Moshi Monsters party

Virtual pet monster phenomenon Moshi Monsters has taken the UK by storm. Edward Relf, chief marketing officer and Divinia Knowels, financial director, discuss how events feature in the Moshi strategy, as it launches a nationwide Hey Moshi campaign at the London Aquarium…

Over 27 million people voted in the 2005 General Election – today over 15 million players are registered on www.moshimonsters.com, a free-to-play online game aimed at children aged seven to 12. The game, which launched its subscription service just over a year ago, allows children to adopt their own free pet monster to play mini-games, customise their homes, explore the in-game world and solve educational puzzles.

The story behind Mind Candy’s – Moshi’s UK-based developer – foray into the social networking for children arena is something of a success story. Since December 2009, it has grown its registered users by over five million, and if its rapid ascent continues in the same vein soon Moshi Monsters will appeal to more children than the policies of British Government do to voters.

Adding over 150,000 new players a day, Mind Candy thought it appropriate to mark the brand’s 15 million player achievement with a “15 Million Monster Party”, its first major consumer event that saw the characters engage with the site’s most dedicated members.

Divinia Knowels and Ed Relf, Mind Candy’s financial director and chief marketing officer respectively, take up the story.

“We always wanted to throw a party when we reached the 10 million registered players mark,” explained Knowles, who organised the event.

However, that milestone quickly crept up, so a new 15 million target was set and, in February, Knowles and Relf began to look at the celebratory occasion with more seriousness. Having met with several event management companies, Mind Candy took the decision to take charge of the event: Fearing that event companies were not getting the brand, there was a danger, Knowles felt, that the event was becoming a corporate affair rather than the “moshified” celebration and interaction it wanted.

“I didn’t think the companies were getting us. Different event companies showed us venues such as the Truman Brewery, which could potentially have been customised, and blank white spaces where we could have built stages and sets, yet we felt that we’d be pushing kids round open spaces and the children needed more than that,” continued Knowles. “Venue selection was critical. I’d been to the London Aquarium many times before, and I think it’s magnificent, so I was sure the children would love it.”

Moshi strategy

Over 400 hundred guests gathered at Merlin Entertainments events space with Moshi fans winning the opportunity to attend the “green carpet” event by entering a competition. One hundred winners received a Willy Wonka-esque golden ticket in the post, inviting them to bring a friend and also parent/guardian. Over 250 children were welcomed including the children of invited press and partners, and in total 450 guests attended the evening, which began at 6.30pm.

The event gave Relf a platform to launch Hey Moshi, a targeted campaign that utilises both events and TV advertisements to promote the official Hey Moshi song and dance – a re-worked nod to Toni Basil’s Hey Mickey and one that saw Mind Candy approach Universal in order to licence the track.

Said Relf: “We’ve organised press events and product launches, and attended trade fairs but this was out first consumer event. It was really successful and we have a strategy to do more because events are the only way we can interact with both parents and children on a one-to-one basis. We are discussing the next consumer event that we think will take place on the East coast of America to mark a key milestone in the US.

“We are potentially looking at a live UK tour, a multi-venue tour, hiring space in key children’s attractions. We are having very loose conversations with attractions, venues and agencies and then there is the potential to exhibit at consumer shows where there is a high penetration of parents and children, so I’m on the look out for stand space at suitable consumer events.”

When two worlds collide

Knowels considers the Moshi Monsters party to be a great success, gaining significant media coverage in the Evening Standard. Press were invited to the event to see children interacting with the property and the assets of the property; four laptops were set up in the Aquarium so that guests could play the game, and a range of Moshi activities were created in real life so that the children could relate the virtual game to a real life situation.

Interaction was key and so Aquarium divers entered the tanks with waterproof clipboards and answered questions posed by children, who were armed on the outside with pens and paper. The glass tanks were adorned with transfers made from an almost fabric-like paper – Mind Candy’s in-house design team recreated some of the characters wearing scuba equipment. Printed by Larger Than Life Print in America the transfers when stuck on glass allowed light to penetrate.

Rejecting ideas such as badge making machines, Knowels and Relf opted for a Dance Dance Revolution machine, a giant Connect4, Moshi-themed face-painting, a drawing area with Moshi artists and how to draw sheets, a Candy Floss cart supplied by Ideas Box, an ice cream machine from the Incredible Ice Cream Company and two life-size characters – Furi and Poppet – which met with the guests. A small stage allowed dancers to perform and teach Moshi fans Hey Moshi and all of this with one and a half hours to set up.

Explained Knowles: “The Aquarium is open to the public until 5pm and so we had a very short space of time to set up. Working backwards, we opened the space in phases, making sure the first area that guests were welcomed into was priority.”

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