Toy company CEOs dress up to play Santa

by Kazuaki Nagata

To help boost the sagging toy market, toy company executives transformed themselves into one-day Santa Clauses on Saturday to promote their products for Christmas.

The Japanese toy industry got some good news in fiscal 2007 when it learned that sales had risen for the first time four years. But the industry is facing a tough holiday season for 2008.

Although it is unclear whether the global financial crisis is having a direct effect on the toy industry, the overall market for toys seems to have declined since September compared with the same period last year.

“This event is being held to throw some positive news at the industry to help it get energized,” said Sega Toys President and CEO Isao Kokubun, who is also a vice chairman of the Japan Toy Association, which planned the Christmas event.

The association’s board is made up of executives from Namco Bandai Holdings Inc. and Tomy Co., who dressed up as Santa Claus and visited a variety of stores to promote toy sales.