CLOSE-UP: CLIENT OF THE WEEK - Toy story that is going online/James Bidwell’s verve will help eToys to succeed over here, Jenny Watts believes

It never rains but it pours. At least that’s been the case in the Bidwell household recently: James Bidwell, the European marketing director of eToys, became the proud father of a baby girl, Willow, and launched the UK site of the US’s biggest internet toy seller within days of each other. ’It was a double launch,’ he says cheerily. You have to take your hat off to the man.

It never rains but it pours. At least that’s been the case in the

Bidwell household recently: James Bidwell, the European marketing

director of eToys, became the proud father of a baby girl, Willow, and

launched the UK site of the US’s biggest internet toy seller within days

of each other. ’It was a double launch,’ he says cheerily. You have to

take your hat off to the man.



Bidwell’s CV charts a varied rise. A spell as an account man at Lowe

Howard-Spink provided him with some ’indispensable’ knowledge that has

helped with future agency dealings. Subsequently he worked in marketing

at EuroDisney; from there he was headhunted by the games specialist,

Sega, to take charge of marketing for Segaworld at London’s

Trocadero.



Bidwell’s latest task is to raise the profile of the recently launched

UK website for eToys. BMP DDB’s advertising, which broke last week, is

designed to highlight the ease and personal touch offered when shopping

at eToys. Bidwell positively brims over with enthusiasm at the

challenge.



’It’s a great opportunity for Christmas,’ he says. ’We’re witnessing a

revolution with so many internet brands coming on to the scene. But I’m

confident we’ll get critical mass as we have had experience of two

Christmases under our belt in the US.’



Although it is the established market leader across the pond, eToys has

launched in a less advanced e-commerce market over here. Bidwell has his

work cut out for him to replicate the company’s stateside success, but

he is rising to the challenge with gusto.



eToys has thought up a few pointers to help buyers ensure big Yuletide

smiles. These include a children’s wish list, which guides even the most

out-of-touch relative straight in to favour, and an e-mail system which

prompts a birthday reminder, giving the customer plenty of time to order

the goods.



Bidwell is confident the advertising will drive traffic to the site.

’It’s very clean and focused, with a distinctly British sense of

humour,’ he says of the executions, one of which shows a group of Barbie

dolls beside the line: ’Stop chasing attractive blondes.’ BMP was chosen

for the UK launch by Bidwell for its ’ability to understand solid

brand-building’. ’As far as we’re concerned, the agency is unique in the

market,’ he says. He reckons the agency made the right choice, too.

’We’re all delighted with the advertising BMP has produced.’



But will it be enough to live up to his expectations for eToys? Bidwell

is adamant that the company has all the right ingredients to become a

household name, even if it takes a lot of hard work. And after all, the

concept of hard work doesn’t seem to bother him unduly. ’It has been

hectic’, he admits, ’but that’s exciting.’



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