Tamagotchi was a totally new type of toy called a “virtual pet.” It originated in Japan and became a sensation. But nothing would compare to the impact it had on the American market, and the world!

The Problem

Tamagotchi was a toy developed by Bandai Japan that had only been introduced into the Japanese market. It had become a huge hit there and they were looking to introduce this toy to the U.S. market. This was a completely new type of toy. A “virtual pet.” So the nature of the toy had to be communicated in some way. The only problem was that the packaging being used in Japan was very cluttered and confusing. What worked in Japan would not work in the U.S.

Our Findings

  1. Tamagotchi was filled with characters that were spunky and edgy.
    Every time you played the toy, you would get a new character that would grow as you nourished it. Depending on how you did that, the character would grow into any number of characters. Some of them were sassy. Some were sweet. Some were sad. Happy. And so on.
  2. Tamagotchi had personality
    The toy was, in essence, a parenting toy. If you were a good and active parent, you got a happy character. If neglected, your character was problematic.
  3. Tamagotchi was addictive
    It was hard to put it down once you started.
  4. Tamagotchi was different than any other toy.
    And the brand design had to say that.

Tamagotchi logo

Our Strategy

BobCo’s strategy was based on capturing the unique personality of the characters of the toy through loose and un-refined crayon style illustrations. The logo had the same scratchy crayon styling that gave the brand a kinetic energy. The colors were bright, explosive and sometimes conflicting. This child-like imperfection gave the brand an iconic style that was uncommon in the toy industry.

A fifth-panel box was designed so that there would be a cover flap to create a “reveal” and drama when opening the flap to see the toy. The cover design had the logo on it’s side paired with an iconic three part “animation” sequence that helped to simply tell the story of the character birth that the toy concept was based on.

Tamagotchi character illustrations: generation 1

Tamagotchi package close-up

Tamagotchi package close-up

Tamagotchi package close-up

The Result

The success of our strategy can not be overstated. This toy became the biggest toy of the year and is ranked in the top ten toys in popularity of all time.

What started out as a package design project for BobCo went on to become the global brand that was licensed from BobCo for global use. BobCo went on to create the full range of character illustrations for each generation of Tamagotchi. The library of illustrations and design elements were used for a huge range of licensed products. From calendars and pajamas to shoes and fashion accessories. McDonalds created a Happy Meal promotion using this brand architecture.

The Tamagotchi brand went on to include sub-categories such as Tamagotchi Ocean, Tamagotchi Garden and a new battling version called Digimon. BobCo was involved with the strategy and design of each version and even created the patterns and color schemes for the toy itself.

LA Times: "Bandai Back as Major Player"

LA Times: "Bandai Back as Major Player"

Hang tag

Tamagotchi calendar cover

Tamagotchi calendar spread

Tamagotchi Ocean package and toy design

Tamagotchi Garden package and toy design