Q&A: Ed Relf, chief commercial officer, Mind Candy (creator of Moshi Monsters)

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Marketing Week (MW): How does Moshi Monsters magazine link in with the online game?

Ed Relf (ER): Children’s magazines are an interesting and engaging way to communicate with a young audience. We decided very early on that the magazine was going to become a part of the game experience.

The secret for us has been meshing the virtual world and the magazine itself. That is our strategy and the reason we self-publish the magazine. It is important for us as the publisher that we feature upcoming online content because it is an extension of the game world offline.

MW: How do you ensure the Moshi Monsters magazine fits with the values of the game?

ER: Not only do we have to appeal to children, but also their parents. Moshi Monsters has always been a safe, secure online game that has been built for children. The fact that we do not take advertising on the website and it is an educational game means parents endorse their children playing. The magazine is essentially a replication of that.

MW: What are the commercial objectives of the magazine?

ER: It is not a commercial venture for us as a business. It is more about us developing a communication channel and a way of telling people about new content in the game world. The key thing for the magazine is that it engages our audience in a slightly different way from the website. We know that players of Moshi Monsters are also watching TV, reading magazines and listening to the radio.

MW: How do you measure the benefits of the magazine for the Moshi Monsters brand?

ER: We measure success by the response from the gaming community. There are in-game items that unlock unique game content, which are bundled with each issue of the magazine. We monitor the redemption of those items, and that fuels increasing levels of engagement with the website itself. That is the objective measure.

MW: With the magazine and other merchandise being so successful, can you see Moshi Monsters ever becoming a primarily offline brand?

ER: Absolutely not. It is completely the reverse. We are an online game publisher, and the primary objective for all the products that we produce, license or self-published is to drive traffic back into the Moshi Monsters intellectual property online. We already have a range of plush toys, trading cards and stickers. All of our toys have some kind of element with unlockable content within the game.

MW: Does starting online makes it easier to establish a brand that can be built offline?

ER: It is a common misconception that by doing something online, it might be cheaper, or that there is a lower barrier of entry. We have been working on the product for four years and spent tens of millions of dollars developing the title. This year alone, the business is spending $20m just on advertising.

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