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Jesús Díaz-Campo1

Licenciado y doctor en Periodismo por la Universidad Complutense de Madrid. Director del Máster en Comunicación e Identidad Corporativa de la Universidad Internacional de La Rioja (UNIR). Acreditado a profesor titular por ANECA

Erika Fernández-Gómez2

Doctora en Comunicación por la Universidad de Vigo. Profesora adjunta en la Universidad Internacional de la Rioja (UNIR), donde imparte docencia en el área de Empresa y Comunicación. Miembro del grupo de investigación COYSODI de UNIR

1International University of La Rioja (UNIR). Spain

2Erika Fernández-Gómez: International University of La Rioja (UNIR). Spain

This piece of research presents a content analysis carried out on the messages published by the most important brands of the toy industry in Spain according to the Estrella Program of the Spanish Association of Toy Manufacturers (AEFJ) on the Facebook social network during the 2014-2015 Christmas campaign. Specifically, the messages published by Famosa, Playmobil, Comansi, Hasbro, Barbie and Fisher-Price were analyzed. The main objective of this piece of research has been to analyze the interaction between brands and their followers. The purpose of the publications and the use of multimedia resources (videos, photographs, labels, emoticons or links to web pages) are taken into account. In total, 991 messages were collected. The results break down the characteristics of the ten most popular messages (with the most I like it), the ten with more participation (that is, the ones that received the largest number of comments) and the ten most viral (those that were shared more times). The strategy employed by this sector is based on transmitting informative messages or greeting the audience through messages that are accompanied by a photograph. These messages correspond to those that their users like and share most. On the contrary, the contents that are most commented are those that seek interaction with users through mechanisms such as contests.

KEY WORDS: Facebook, toys, engagement, corporative communication, social media, Christmas campaign, brand

Esta investigación presenta un análisis de contenido realizado sobre los mensajes que publicaron las marcas más importantes de la industria del juguete en España de acuerdo al Programa Estrella de la Asociación Española de Fabricantes de Juguetes (AEFJ) en la red social Facebook durante la campaña de Navidad 2014-2015. En concreto, se analizaron los mensajes publicados por Famosa, Playmobil, Comansi, Hasbro, Barbie y Fisher-Price. El principal objetivo de la investigación ha sido analizar la interacción entre las marcas y sus seguidores. Se tiene en cuenta la finalidad de las publicaciones y el empleo de recursos multimedia (vídeos, fotografías, etiquetas, emoticonos o enlaces a páginas web). En total se recogieron 991 mensajes. Los resultados desglosan las características que presentan los diez mensajes más populares (con más likes), los diez que registran más participación (es decir, lo que recibieron un mayor número de comentarios) y los diez más virales (los que se compartieron más veces). La estrategia empleada por este sector se basa en transmitir mensajes de carácter informativo o saludar a la audiencia a través de mensajes que son acompañados de una fotografía. Estos mensajes se corresponden con los que más gustan y se comparten. Por el contrario, los contenidos que más se comentan son aquellos que buscan la interacción con los usuarios a través de mecanismos como los concursos.

PALABRAS CLAVE: Facebook, juguetes, engagement, comunicación corporativa, redes sociales, campaña de Navidad, marca

Esta investigação apresenta uma analises de conteúdo realizado sobre as mensagens que publicaram as marcas mais importantes da indústria de brinquedos na Espanha de acordo ao programa ¨Estrella de la Asociacion Española de Fabricantes de Juguetes (AEFJ) na rede social Facebook durante a campanha de Natal de 2014/2015. Em concreto, se analisaram as mensagens publicadas por Famosa, Playmobil, Comansi, Hasbro, Barbie e Fisher-Prince. O principal objetivo desta investigação foi analisar a interação entre as marcas e seus seguidores. Foi levado em conta a finalidade das publicações e o emprego de recursos multimídia (vídeos, fotografias, etiquetas, emojis ou enlaces às páginas web). Em total se reuniram 991 mensagens. Os resultados separam as características que apresentam as dez mensagens mais populares, com mais likes, os dez que registram mais participação (isto e, o que receberam um maior número de comentários) e os dez, mas virais (os que foram mais compartidos). A estratégia empregada por este setor se baseia em transmitir mensagens de caráter informativo ou brindar audiência através de mensagens que são acompanhadas de uma fotografia. Estas mensagens correspondem-se com os que mais gostam e se compartem. Pelo contrário, os conteúdos que mais se comentam são aqueles que buscam a interação com os usuários através de mecanismos como os concursos.

PALAVRAS CHAVE: Facebook, brinquedos, engagement, comunicação corporativa, redes sociais, campanha de Natal, marca

Correspondence: Jesús Díaz-Campo: International University of La Rioja (UNIR). Spain.
Erika Fernández-Gómez: International University of La Rioja (UNIR). Spain.

Received: 19/04/2018
Accepted: 29/04/2019
Published: 15/09/2019

How to cite the article: Díaz-Campo, J. and Fernández-Gómez, E. (2019). The toy industry at Facebook. The engagement with users during the 2014-15 Christmas campaign. [La industria del juguete en Facebook. El engagement con los usuarios durante la campaña de Navidad 2014-15]. Vivat Academia. Revista de Comunicación, 148, 1-21.
Recovered from


About 85% of Spanish Internet users aged 16 to 65 years use social networks. 87% of them use Facebook every day and, to do so, they spend an average of one hour daily. On the other hand, eight out of ten users follow a brand and 39% of them do it quite often. Also, 57% of users confess they have been influenced by social media when making their purchases. (IAB Spain and Elogia, 2018).
In light of these data, it seems clear that the digital medium in general and social networks in particular have become an ideal setting for brands to promote themselves and interact with their followers. And, in recent years, people have gone from a system based on the media, in which there is no possibility of response, to a communication process based on dialogue (Martínez Estremera, 2012, p. 9).
Similarly, users in their facet of consumers devote a significant part of their time to developing in social networks actions related to consumption one way or another, in a process in which they do not mind sharing their life style and their consumption preferences with those other users with whom they are online (Ashley and Tuten, 2015, Dimitriu and Guesalaga, 2015).
Among these users they are in contact with are brands, which thus have the opportunity to interact with potential consumers in a way never seen before and therefore they often do not hesitate to establish conversations on the network with them (Sashittal, Hodis and Sriramachandramurthy, 2014).
One of the aspects that brands must take into account when designing that strategy is the fact that users can become saturated with information due to the number of messages they receive daily from the media, both traditional and digital (Sashittal, Hodis and Sriramachandramurthy, 2014).
Precisely when trying to understand the behavior of users in social networks, various profile classifications have been made (among others, Malhotra, Malhotra and See, 2013, Campbell, Ferraro and Sands, 2014, Min-Sook; Jong-Kuk and Yong, 2015). Of all of them, for the purposes of this piece of research, the one carried out by Hodis, Sriramachandramurthy and Sashittal (2015) is particularly useful, since it refers specifically to Facebook. These authors identify four large groups according to the general behavior in the social network and, in particular, to the creation of content (update of the status, publication of images and comments, etc.) and, on the other hand, to the consumption of contents (browse through the different posts, click “I like it”, share or comment on those posts, etc.). The four groups are the following:

  • Devotees (they create and consume a lot of content).
  • Connection Finders (they consume a lot but create little content).
  • Attention seekers (they consume little but create a lot of content).
  • Entertainment hunters (they consume and create little content).

As can be seen, most users are active one way or another. Well, this activity and that dialogue that has already been mentioned favor that one more step is taken and that there is engagement on the part of the user towards the brand (Dimitriu and Guesalaga, 2017). An engagement that can be explained by the theory of attachment, that is, the need of the human being to maintain permanent affective links with other human beings that, in the case of social networks, also extends to brands, insofar as these interact with users (Hart, Nailling, Bizer, and Collins, 2015).
The toy sector is no exception to this trend. Although catalogs are still one of the main means used by parents when they seek to find information about the products they intend to acquire for their children, 64% of them recognize and use the digital medium to obtain this information, while almost a quarter (23%) acquires them through some online media. Similarly, 31% of parents admit that they consult the comments of other users before taking the final step and buy and 39% take a look especially at the photographs of toys that can be consulted on the network (Spanish Association of Toy Manufacturers, The Cocktayl Analysis and IAB Spain, 2012).
This prominence of the Internet and the social networks increases when reference is made to the toy sector and the scope of study is placed on the Christmas campaign. Taking into account the seasonality of sales of the sector and the publicity concentration during the Christmas campaign (Rom and Sabaté, 2009, p. 73), many brands for which children constitute one of their fundamental market segments (Bringué, 2001) focus much of their efforts on designing the best possible strategy for that campaign.
Likewise, we must not forget that, in this sector, one of the characteristics of the advertising communication by brands is that the child is the user of the product, although the child must influence the purchase decision and, for this reason, on many occasions the public targeted by the campaign are the parents (Tur and López Sánchez, 2012). Companies must also convince parents on social networks, because, despite many children have their own profile, the minimum age to open an account on Facebook is 14 years, with what we would already talk about a teenage audience and a child audience, with ages from 4 to 12 years.
In fact, much of the research that has studied advertising for minors focuses on analyzing the Christmas campaigns, both in Spain and internationally (among others, Bradbard, 1985, Bradbard and Parkman, 1985, Audiovisual Council of Andalusia and Instituto Andaluz de la Mujer, 2013, Díaz-Campo and Fernández-Gómez, 2017, Fernández, 2004, Ferrer, 2007, Gil and Pérez, 2012, Granizo López, 2017, Martínez and Nicolás, 2015, Martínez and Nicolás, 2016, Martínez , Nicolás and Gaona, 2014, Martínez, Nicolás and Salas, 2013, Martínez Pastor, Pérez-Ugena and Salas, 2011, Martínez Pastor, Gaona and Nicolás, 2017, Martínez Pastor and Salas, 2012, Moncada Lara, 2013, Observatorio Andaluz de Non-sexist advertising, 2014, Pérez-Ugena, Martínez and Salas, 2011, Pine and Nash, 2001, Pine, Wilson and Nash, 2007, Rubio, 2011).
Most of them adopt an ethical-deontological perspective and focus on analyzing if there are any gender stereotypes in the advertisements. Likewise, the study of habits that promote this type of advertising in children or the presence of adult family members in those advertisements, and the relationships between them and the minors (Martínez Pastor, Nicolás and García Manso, 2016) are other the issues these works have tried to address.
However, these are studies that focus on media such as television, and, secondly, toy catalogs. On the contrary, the digital medium and social networks have not been studied in such detail, much less from the perspective of engagement, although this is considered one of the main objectives that brands should seek in social networks.
So, Solanas and Carreras (2011, p. 80) explain that this concept refers to how, in a scenario in which there is a saturation of messages, the objective must not only be to impact the consumer, but also, one more step must be taken and have the consumer interact with the brand. Therefore, the engagement talks about the degree of engagement in the conversations. And the main metrics of user interaction on Facebook are the “I like it” button, the option to share or comment (Huertas, Setó-Pámies and Míguez-González, 2014, p. 17).
These same metrics are pointed out by IAB Spain (2012) in the White Paper on Communication in Social Media, when considering that the impact of the activity of brands on social media can be measured through quantitative variables. Thus, the number of fans and the interaction with the contents of the page are indicative of how a company manages to involve its followers (IAB Spain, 2012, p. 25).
In this sense, the few studies carried out so far with the aim of analyzing the strategy of toy brands on social networks (Fernández-Goméz and Díaz-Campo, 2015, Uchoa-Craveiro, 2012) or those others that include that sector among those that make up the subject of study (among others, Furlow, 2011, Gatautis, Vitk auskait? and de Reuver, 2017, Hassan and Casaló Ariño, 2016: Hoffman, Novak and Kang, 2017) point to a greater interaction with the followers, beyond the initial objective of providing followers with commercial information.


The main objective of this piece of research is to analyze the characteristics of the most popular, viral messages that have achieved a greater participation among all those published by toy brands on Facebook. This way, it is intended to determine how brands characterize their messages to generate engagement with their followers. To achieve this goal, the following hypotheses are proposed:

H1. The brands that have a larger number of followers on Facebook get more engagement in their messages. Having more followers in the profile means that the published messages reach a larger audience, something that in turn could also translate into greater engagement of those messages.
H2. The most popular, with more participation and more shared messages are those that invite followers to participate in contests promoted by brands. The messages that brands publish in their profiles pursue various objectives, such as promoting the product, seeking interaction or promoting a contest in which followers participate, among others. A priori, the latter is one of the most attractive options for the public that follows brands on Facebook.
H3. The use of multimedia resources in messages, such as photographs or videos, helps generate greater engagement with followers. Social networks allow brands to use a larger number of resources than in other traditional media such as television or the written press. Along with photographs or videos, messages can include links to a webpage or hashtags, which can increase interest in the content that is published.


In order to verify or falsify the previous hypotheses, a content analysis of the messages published by the toy manufacturers was carried out during the 2014-2015 Christmas campaign. To select the sample of analyzed brands, a triple criterion was followed:

a) Be part of the Spanish Association of Toy Manufacturers (AEFJ), whose partners account for 87% of turnover of the toy sector in Spain.
b) Have been included in the AEFJ Star Program, which at Christmas selects the toys that it considers to represent a greater novelty and stand out more.
c) Contar con un perfil en Facebook.

Thus, at first, the eight brands to which the toys selected for the AEFJ Star Program belonged were chosen: Bizak, Comansi, Famosa, Giochi-Preziosi, Hasbro, IMC Toys, Mattel and Playmobil.
From this first selection, Bizak, IMC Toys and Giochi-Preziosi brands were discarded because, at the time of research, they did not have a Facebook profile. While, in the case of Mattel, which neither has a profile on this social network, it was considered to be made up of brands that are present on Facebook and that also have products in the AEFJ Star Program, such as Barbie and Fisher-Price.
Therefore, the final sample was made up of:

  • Barbie. A brand that is based on a doll manufactured by the company Mattel.
  • Comansi. A Spanish brand specializing in toys that target babies and children aged 0 to 8.
  • Famosa. A Spanish brand that started making dolls and then has diversified its production, which now includes figures, board games, etc.
  • Fisher-Price. A brand that makes baby toys.
  • Hasbro. A brand specialized in board games.
  • Playmobil. A brand based on a figure with a height of 7.5 centimeters.

An analysis of the content of the messages published on these pages was carried out on November 1, 2014 through January 31, 2015, that is, during the Christmas promotional campaign. It should be noted that only the messages published by the brands themselves were counted, but not the comments made by other users.

Table 1. Sample of analyzed pages.

Source: Self made.

The messages were characterized according to two variables:

  • The purpose of the message. In this variable, a total of four categories were differentiated: informative message or greeting to the users that visit the page of the brand (for example, congratulating Christmas or the New Year or giving them some sort of recommendation or advice); promotion of a toy; game or contest (for example, drawing a pack of toys among those who are right at answering a question related to the brand) or a message published to encourage participation (for example “Click on I like it if...”).
  • Regarding the resources used, information was collected on whether the messages published by the brands included videos, photographs, tags (hashtags), emoticons or links to web pages. In the latter case, a difference was made on whether it was a link that led to the brand’s own page or took the user to an external website. As regards the videos, all those that could be launched directly from the brand’s Facebook page were counted, but those that required linking to another page in order to be seen and which, therefore, did not offer the possibility of counting the number of reproductions were not taken into account.
    These two variables were used in a previous study to determine the engagement of infantile and juvenile television networks in Spain (Fernández-Gómez and Díaz- Campo, 2014).
    As mentioned before, the objective of this study is to determine the characteristics of the most popular messages, which have achieved greater participation in the studied profiles and those that have been shared the most. Therefore, these data were also quantified in each of the analyzed messages: popularity (number of “I like it” received), participation (number of comments generated) and virality (number of times the message was shared).


In total, 991 messages were collected. The results presented below break down the characteristics of the ten most popular messages, the ten with more participation and the ten being most viral. These data lead us to determine what strategy this sector uses to achieve engagement of its audience on social networks.

Table 2. Total number of published messages and followers by brand.

Source: Self made.

Table 2 shows how the activity of brands on Facebook does not correspond to having a large number of followers in this profile. Thus, the brand with the largest number of registered entries in the analyzed period corresponds to Famosa. It is followed by Fisher-Price, its activity being more reduced by far, and third, Hasbro Gaming. Although it is the brand with the smallest number of publications, it is the one that has the largest community of followers: Barbie. There is a relationship in the case of baby toys since Fisher-Price is the second company in number of followers and the second in number of published posts.
When analyzing the objective pursued by the messages published by toy brands during the Christmas campaign, it was found that 54.9% of messages correspond to informative content or to content that seeks to greet users (for example, to congratulate them on Christmas). In second place, but with a lower percentage, 21.8% of the messages pursue the promotion of products. On the other hand, games and contests account for 13.5% and messages that seek to stimulate participation are the ones least used by advertisers on their pages with 9.7%.
In the case of the resources used by the brands, 26% of the brands have used photography as the main resource of their publications. The emoticon is the second resource, present in 24% of the messages. The hashtag is present in 23% of the occasions and the link to the own web in 20%. The external website was used 5% of the time and the video 2%.
If we compare this data with the objective pursued by the 10 most popular messages (Table 3), that is, those that achieve a larger number of “I like it”, we see how also 5 of these advertisements have an informative purpose. Promotion is present with two messages and so is encouraging participation. Although the contest is only present once. The brand targeting babies is the one that has a larger number of publications that fans like. Precisely to this brand corresponds the contest with the draw of the house of Minnie where the followers are invited to show what they know about this Disney character.

Table 3. Objective and resources used in the 10 most popular messages.

Source: Self made.

On the other hand, based on the resources used, you can see how all the messages that lead the ranking of the most popular are characterized by being published together with a photograph. The video appears only once, as does the link to the external website. Redirecting users to the website is present on three occasions and the emoticon in two.
Observing the messages that have provoked the most comments (Table 4), it is observed that only one of the most popular messages (Table 3) has been one of the most commented. This is the case of Hasbro’s publication with the promotion that board games are a good way to enjoy with family and friends. As you can see, it has received a total of 1,607 comments.

Table 4. Objective and resources of the 10 most commented messages.

Source: Self made.

In this case, the brand that receives the most comments to the publications that it has made is Famosa. Although it is worth mentioning that Hasbro Gaming has also achieved very much participation by its followers. Standing out from other aspects is the fact that all the most commented messages are aimed at promoting a game or contest except for the first case we mentioned, which, on the contrary, is based on promotion. For this purpose, a larger number of resources are used since, although the photograph is still the one that is present in all the publications, there is also a link to the brand’s website. This way, it is verified that, in order to compete or play, it is necessary to visit the home page of the toy manufacturer. The hashtag appears on this occasion and the absence of the video stands out too.

Table 5. Objective and resources of the 10 most viral messages.

Source: Self made.

Finally, seven of the most popular messages (see Table 3) are also the most shared (Table 5). So, Fisher-Price also leads the number of viralized messages. Although, on this occasion the objective pursued is first to inform or greet and secondly to promote a game or contest. Promotion is only present once. Photography is still the present resource in all the messages that are shared. Links to the web itself, to the external web, emoticons and hashtags are used, video being the least used resource as it is present in only one of the most viral messages.


The data obtained in the study allow us to draw the following conclusions with respect to each of the three hypotheses formulated in the first part of this piece of research:
Brands with more followers get better engagement. After analyzing the most popular, commented and shared messages, we can see that the brand with more followers (Barbie) is not the one that gets more engagement from the audience. This brand is only present among the ten messages with more “I like it”, with a message asking users what their purposes are for the new year. Although the third brand in number of followers is the one that gets more “I like it” and has its contents more shared.
Comments are present in the brands that promote games or contests, such as Famosa and Hasbro Gaming, which represent the second and fourth brands in terms of followers. So, although it is true that the brands that have more followers get better participation data from their audiences than those that have less, there is no direct relationship of how many more fans engage.
What is evident is that it is not enough to be present on social networks and have a large number of followers. Barbie is the most followed brand but does not have a communication strategy on it, since it is the one that has published fewer messages. This results in lack of engagement with its followers.
Facebook is a bidirectional medium, and therefore brands that seek interaction with their followers through games and competitions are those that get them more involved.
The most popular, commented and shared messages are those based on contests. It is evident that the most commented messages are the contests; secondly, contests get a good degree of virality. Although they have a lower presence in the case of popularity. Followers like and share those contents of an informative nature or that are aimed at greeting them. The promotional nature generates little participation by fans of toy brands.
But it is noticeable that contests are a good way to get an active community on this social network. Thus, information is valued and participation is encouraged in the face of purely commercial messages. This reinforces the idea that presence on social networks should be based on a dialogue and on offering something more to users.
The messages that resort to photography and video get better engagement. It can only be affirmed in the case of the image, which is present in all the most popular, commented and shared messages. However, the video is scarcely used by brands. The toy companies take advantage of their presence on social networks to redirect traffic to their web pages and get good results from the participation of their followers, especially when it comes to contests. What shows the existence of a strategy in which the web page of brands continues to be an important element for the communication of brands. While this traffic is achieved by being present on social networks.
Thus, after analyzing the publications made by the toy brands on Facebook throughout the 2014-2015 Christmas campaign, it can be determined that the strategy of these companies on the social network is quite aligned with the motivations of the users of social networks. As indicated by the report of IAB Spain and Elogia (2017), the contents that are more liked and shared are informative, responding to the motivation to follow the brands to keep informed. At the same time, the most commented and also the most viral publications respond to the second reason to follow a brand, to participate in a contest.
In addition, although the promotional character is not the one that gets the most engagement from the audience, taking into account that parents value the photographs of the toys before buying, the image is a present resource in all the most popular, commented and shared messages. In this sense, the social network is a good opportunity for brands to communicate with their audiences, but that does not mean that the website is left out, because in the strategy of toy brands, redirecting traffic to web pages is observed.
The way in which the consumer wants to relate to brands has changed, and in this study we can see how many of the brands studied in the toy sector have adapted to the new medium.
Finally, this study could be replicated in Christmas campaigns of later years, similar to what happens with television commercials, to observe the possible evolution of the detected trends and, at the same time, to open the door to the future realization of similar ones that also have Facebook as an object of study but refer to different sectors or to the toy sector in incipient networks such as Instagram Another interesting way to approach engagement is through surveys or focus group to the followers of these profiles, with the aim of knowing the mechanisms that activate their involvement with these brands.


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Jesús Díaz-CampoIs: a full professor at the International University of La Rioja (UNIR) since 2011 where he teaches in the area of Communication and directs the Master’s Degree in Communication and Corporate Identity. Accredited by ANECA as a full professor, he has a research six-year term (CNEAI). He is a member of the Communication and Digital Society (COYSODI) research group of UNIR and his main lines of research are ethics and deontology of communication, corporate communication, social networks and health communication.
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Erika Fernández-Gómez: Is an associate professor at the International University of La Rioja (UNIR) since 2010 where she teaches in the area of Communication. Accredited by ANECA as a professor hired doctor, has a research six-year term (CNEAI). He is a member of the Communication and Digital Society (COYSODI) research group of the UNIR and his main lines of research are television, advertising, social networks, health communication and children and youth audience.
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