Five Questions With: Jennifer Preston

As vice president of digital technology for a brand that evokes childhood memories, Hasbro Inc.’s Jennifer Preston is the force behind the toy and game company’s technology strategy and support of digital content distribution across myriad channels. Speed-of-light technology changes mean she has to keep up with innovation and support cross-functional teams as they tell the Hasbro story in new, strategic ways.

PBN: You’ve been in your current role for over five years now. In that time, you’ve overseen Hasbro digital-asset management. Has that part of your job changed significantly over the past few years, as technology advances?

PRESTON: We have evolved from a toy and game company to a global play and entertainment leader, and at the same time, we’ve seen dramatic changes in technology and the way people use technology. My work day looks very different than it did when I first joined Hasbro.

Specific to digital-asset management, there are two areas of our business that have required us to dramatically expand how we use technology to create, store and distribute digital assets: e-commerce and omni-channel storytelling.

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We’ve seen a dramatic need for more dynamic content-to-commerce assets to fuel the online shopping experience. And our storytelling efforts – the way we bring our brands and characters to life – has expanded to more channels, media, screens and audiences. It’s been fascinating to help the team maximize our use of technology to support the evolution of our business.

PBN: Is relevancy a challenge in your marketing efforts? For instance, timeliness of a certain toy or game connected with a movie release?

PRESTON: Our brands are stronger, more global and more pervasive than ever before. Play-Doh, Nerf, My Little Pony, Baby Alive, Monopoly – these brands are as much a part of childhood today as they were when my children were growing up – and in many cases – when I was growing up.

We rely on advanced analytics to help us continually innovate and expand the ways we bring our brands to life. Today, in addition to toys and games, that includes music, publishing, entertainment, experiential events, digital games and an array of consumer products.

PBN: How do you and your team piece together what’s needed in terms of future digital-marketing initiatives?

PRESTON: We work very closely with the digital marketing, social and e-commerce teams – strategically, as we refine our road map for the coming year, and tactically on a day-to-day basis to make sure we are executing on their needs.

We also have a number of trusted partners, companies that help us think about all of the possible investments we might make, so that we can narrow those down to the ones that will be most impactful. And then there are conferences – that’s a great opportunity to meet with like-minded business and technology people as well as the vendors that offer the latest tech.

PBN: What was your favorite Hasbro toy or game as a child?

PRESTON: I have always loved the game of Risk! It’s a game of strategy, which I really enjoy playing, but it is also a game that I played with my father and my brothers. I have great memories of very intense, hourslong games. I think that’s what’s so great about working at Hasbro. Our mission is to create the world’s best play experiences.

PBN: What is a Hasbro online offering of which many people may not be aware?

PRESTON: Hasbro is doing some amazing things on social media. Whether it’s Hasbro Pulse on Instagram or our YouTube channel, I think that the company is offering some really innovative and creative digital content in this space.

Susan Shalhoub is a PBN contributing writer.