After 45 years in the industry, creative and production company Diaframma specializes in TV commercials for toys — and is constantly evolving to expand the industry. The Toy Book spoke with Diaframma Vice President Jehan Hindo to discuss the company’s current projects and the future of toy marketing.
The Toy Book: For those who don’t know, give us a brief overview of what Diaframma provides to clients.
Jehan Hindo: We are a full-service creative and production company that specializes in toy TV commercials. Diaframma has been in business since 1976, but has evolved over and over again. We pride ourselves on giving clients top-notch service and production quality, but at a competitive price. Our expertise in the industry is hard to come by while we strive to continue to push innovative boundaries and creative forces.
TB: What were some of the companies you worked with and/or highlights of 2023 for you?
JH: 2023 has been an excellent year; we were a bit concerned about the state of the industry after Spielwarenmesse in Nuremberg, but as always, this industry is resilient and bounced back regardless of the setbacks. I think (the COVID-19 pandemic) really pushed the industry to its highest performance, and we had to readjust to normal again. For us, 2023 has been surprisingly really great as we have welcomed back a lot of clients on set with us as travel resumed. It has been really nice to get back into the nitty gritty details with everyone. Our portfolio has expanded and we are always happy to not only have long-lasting relationships, but also to welcome new clients to our studios globally.
TB: Last year, we spoke to you a bit about the introduction of The Edge Studio, but it was just in its beginning stages. How has this virtual stage developed for you over the past year — and is there anything we can look forward to in the upcoming year?
JH: We have had a LOT of fun with the virtual stage this year. Not to say there hasn’t been a fair share of challenges, but it has really helped us push our creativity and help production become more efficient. That being said, the virtual world is super intricate so we have “partnered” with Unreal Engine, which is the leading 3D platform in the world and we want to achieve that kind of quality here at Diaframma. They have been very successful in the space of games such as Minecraft and Fortnite and we would like to bring that quality to the toy TV space.
“The world of streaming and digital media has really shaken things up a bit over the years, but I do think all of the hype that “TV is dead” is actually just that: hype. TV as we know it is still very much alive and needed.”
– Jehan Hindo, Vice President, Diaframma
TB: In a world of streaming channels and TikTok and other social media platforms, some may think TV is becoming archaic. Do you think this is the case? And if not, how do you see it maintaining its strength?
JH: The world of streaming and digital media has really shaken things up a bit over the years, but I do think all of the hype that “TV is dead” is actually just that: hype. TV as we know it is still very much alive and needed. Of course, it is more difficult for some brands/companies than others, but if you really want people to see and hear your brand, TV is essential. Just look at all the marketing this year around Barbie: The Movie. Traditional marketing is here to stay, even with all the digital outlets. Unfortunately — or fortunately — we have to keep getting creative to satisfy all the channel needs, but most big retailers in our industry aren’t going to be 100% on board with your product line if there is no TV marketing behind it.
TB: The buzzword of 2023 seems to be “AI,” or artificial intelligence. How does this changing technology affect your business and your creative outlook?
JH: This is a word I, personally, am excited about, but also terrified of. From a professional standpoint, I think there are so many advantages to this new technology — if used in the right way. It can also be something extremely dangerous.
Our approach at Diaframma is to integrate it as we are (ideating) to help flush out new creative settings or outlooks, but we will always start a brainstorming session with a roundtable of creatives and bounce ideas off each other first. Then, if we can push the envelope a little creativity wise, it can’t hurt to see what AI has to think — but the thought of replacing people with AI is something that will never happen for us. We have to keep our eyes and brains open to new technology, but also need to keep the core of our client relationships and experience on hand in order to fully deliver for our clients.
TB: How does Diaframma’s work combine all of these high-tech and creative outputs to encourage kids’ imaginations and the power of play?
JH: Encouraging kids’ imaginations is exactly what we are here to do. It has definitely been a challenge with all the technology and screen time kids have at their fingertips but I do think having a good mix of ages/generations in our creative team helps keep our finger on the pulse. Kids have so many options these days it is really a struggle to get their attention, but thanks to our clients who have such innovative and fun products, it makes our job easier to tell those stories.
TB: Looking forward to 2024, what are you most excited about — and how can companies connect to work with you?
JH: We are looking forward to seeing what everyone at Toy Fair has to offer for 2024! I think there have been a lot of innovative products that needed extra time during the (pandemic) transition. Internally, we are expanding our team to make sure that we can stay as dedicated as ever to our clients and emerging needs. Our door is always open, and new companies can reach out directly to me via email at [email protected] or through our website (but a human touch is always nicer).
A version of this feature was originally published in the 2023 Toy Fair issue of The Toy Book. Click here to read the full issue! Want to receive The Toy Book in print? Click here for subscription options!