Natalie Zhuzhu How does a brand new toy go from obscurity to phenomenon in half a year?  Natalie Hornsby, VP of Marketing at Cepia LLC (creators of Zhu Zhu Pets) has been the driving force behind the marketing and branding of Zhu Zhu Pets and we are delighted to announce that she will be keynoting the Engage! Conference. If you have kids, you'll be aware that the toys were the "must have" gift during the the 2009 critical holiday shopping season.  Several stores could not keep the toys in stock and when they did have them on hand they limited the amount that consumers could purchase. Already the brand has it's own iPhone app and a deal is in place to bring the brand the Nintendo DSNatalie will enlighten the Engage! audience on her strategy in bringing this brand to market (full bio after the break). She takes the stage at 9am on February 17th at the Javits Center. Engage Conference and Expo (February 16-17 at the Javits Center) runs alongside 25,000-person Toy Fair for the first time.

Natalie is joined by fellow keynoters:

Will Wright, Founder and Chief Executive, Stupid Fun Club, Creator, Spore & The Sims (Tuesday, Feb. 16 at 9 am)
Lane Merrifield, Executive VP, Disney Online Studios, Co-Founder and , General Manager, Club Penguin (Tuesday, Feb. 16 at 1 pm)
Tor Sirset, Vice President of Marketing Girls/Preschool, Bandai America Inc. (Wednesday, Feb. 17 at 1 pm)

Natalie Hornsby, VP of Marketing, Cepia LLC (creators of Zhu Zhu Pets)

How does a brand new toy go from obscurity to phenomenon in half a year? As the Vice President of Marketing at Cepia, the company that makes the toy, 24-year-old Natalie Hornsby has been the driving force behind the marketing and branding of Zhu Zhu Pets. While she, too, is simply stunned by the meteoric rise of the toy, she has worked very hard over the last seven months to raise the visibility of the brand. While she led the campaign to market the toy by using traditional methods, she has also utilized more contemporary methods, like zeroing in on the “mommy-bloggers” online to promote the brand.

While her youth is an asset in coming up with modern methods of branding, such as using the Internet, Natalie Hornsby is no newcomer to the world of toys. Her father, Russell Hornsby, is the CEO of Cepia now but, for most of the years that Natalie was growing up, he ran a toy company called Trendmasters, which generated its own hit toys. Always intrigued by the toy industry she grew up in, Natalie sought to make it her life’s work, too. Soon after graduating Magna Cum Laude from Boston College with a Bachelor’s Degree in International Relations, she headed to China for several months to learn the toy business from the manufacturing end.

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