Welcome to Stikeezmania
Hoody, Puffy, Sharky, Froggy and Dolphy. These are the names guaranteed to make parents hide their wallets and take cover. In just over a month, Stikeez – collectable miniature plastic toy characters – have taken the country by storm, with numerous online platforms dedicated to swapping, buying and selling them.
The toys are part of a promotion run by Pick n Pay, which gives one toy for every R150 spent by a customer.
Pick n Pay has also introduced a free mobile game for phones and tablets. If parents are already incensed by the characters, the game – Rise of the Stikeez – may just push them over the edge.
But many parents are bending to their little ones’ demands, says mum-of-two Annika Larsen. Her first experience with the toys started badly. “Drowsy, I stumbled downstairs to find the toddler and the preschooler squabbling and Batman, the dog, choking.
“The children were fighting over who had made Batman choke on a Stikeez. And no one was doing anything to save the dog. I broke up the fight and pulled a tiny purple thing out of Batman’s mouth,” she said. “Stikeez had landed.”
Luckily, her two kids are already over the craze. But there’s bad news for other unlucky parents. Rumours are that Pick n Pay may be coming out with season 2.
Andy Rice, branding and advertising expert, thinks this kind of marketing strategy doesn’t last long.
“These promotions are effective as long as they last. This is a short-term offer where Pick n Pay says ‘we’ll give you this if you give us that’, which is R150 or more,” he said.
“The problem with this is that the shopping is driven by the children, not the parents.”
Parents’ involvement in some cases has gone beyond simply coughing up the bucks at Pick n Pay for their children to complete the collection of 24 characters.
“I was at a gathering where my niece and nephew were talking about Stikeez. One asked if the other was collecting them. The response was hilarious. ‘No, but my mother is.’”
TINY TERRORS Shopping is now driven by the children, not the parents