• HASCON Interview: Tyla Boucher on Bringing Ponies to Children Around the World

    Greetings everyone! The Illustrious Q here to bring you the first of two interviews I conducted while attending HASCON this past weekend in Providence Rhode Island! Just who is this interview with? Why none other than Tyla Boucher, the Vice President of Global Brand Strategy & Marketing for My Little Pony.

    Basically her job is to run the My Little Pony Franchise. But you don't have to take my word for it. You can hear it from her herself, as well as all sorts of information about bringing the land of Equestria to children around the world, after the break!

    The Illustrious Q: Tyla, first I want to say thank you so much for agreeing to be interviewed by Equestria Daily today. You're at HASCON, I know you're incredibly, incredibly busy with the Con itself and also with your day job running the My Little Pony global brand. So to start things off, why don't you tell us a little bit about what you do on a daily basis.

    Tyla Boucher: Oh my gosh, that's a big question. I think on a daily basis we are constantly thinking of new ways to bring the brand to life for our fans all over the world across all different ways. Whether it's our shows, our digital content, or our product or our consumer products and just really trying to think of how we can continue to keep everyone delighted and surprised.

    TIQ: Kind of like how over the past few years there's been some stuff going on around the world that's made its way news wise back to the States. Like the My Little Pony Fan Tour that happened in the United Kingdom, the musical that was going on for Rainbow Rocks in Jakarta and Singapore, and the Friendship Run that happened in the Philippines.

    What is it about the international markets that makes them so appealing for experimenting with different types of ways of bringing the brand to life?

    TB: It's a great question. It really comes from the teams that are working in the brand in those regions. They see that there's this really engaged fan base that wants to experience the brand in completely different ways, and immerse themselves. So the friendship bus is a really good example of how we were able to put the whole pony experience on wheels and take it around to all different places in the UK. So that people who may not experience Pony or who haven't seen the content, are able to see it.

    And then some of the other things that you talked about, like the Friendship Runs, have people take the Pony brand, celebrate a good cause, and run together with their friends. So they have this opportunity to not only celebrate My Little Pony, but just celebrate friendship. Just celebrate friendship around the world, and that's something that I think is unique and is so special about this brand. It's not hard to get people to come and celebrate that way. It's amazing.

    TIQ: Yeah. Especially when you've got fan events, like what you have going on here at HASCON. MLP is celebrated, but all the major brands and franchises that Hasbro has are as well. It's amazing to see how much creativity goes into differentiating what each and every single franchise is trying to do to attract an audience.

    TB: Yep. It's really interesting that you pointed that out because this was such a labor of love. All the different franchise groups were responsible for ideating on how they would create their own brand experience. And you see the distinct creative differences in every franchise and brand when you go and look at their space. It's so interesting to me, and again, continuing to surprise and delight on how everyone does that in different ways.

    TIQ: Yeah. After I heard about the Friendship Run, the bus that was going all around the United Kingdom, and especially the MLP: Musical: Rainbow Rock,  I immediately thought  the perfect place to actually showcase some of that stuff would've been here at HASCON. So I was kinda a little bummed that none of that was brought to the U.S. for this Con. But that does bring up the question: can we possibly see a Friendship Bus Tour like had happened in the United Kingdom, or see the My Little Pony: Musical: Rainbow Rocks, or even have a Friendship Run brought here to the United States?

    TB: Mmm. Maybe you're on to something, but I'll just have to leave it at that.

    TIQ: Earlier this year, February if I recall correctly for New York Fashion Week, there was a cross promotion going on between Hasbro and the Milk and Cookies Kids Spa in New York City. For a limited time the spa offered special My Little Pony themed treatments and toys. When I heard about this it immediately struck me as, "Well, that's something Rarity would do in a heartbeat."

    TB: I know! You're absolutely right! Also, it seemed that the rest of the main six would just jump onboard. It was so fun because New York is one of those places where you can find a spa where it is for kids and their moms together. And this is one of those brands where you keep seeing that. Parents remember the show and remember the product from when they were young and now they have kids and they want to share the experience. And here's Milk and Cookies with a perfect venue for us to go and then have that experience where they can go together and talk about why they love My Little Pony.

    TIQ: Yeah, I remember from an earlier interview that Lauren Faust did, where she stated when she was creating the show she didn't want it to just be a show for little kids here to watch and their parents would just turn it on and just walk away from. She wanted it to be engaging for both the parents who remembered the show growing up, and also for the new audience that she was trying to cultivate.

    TB: Yep.

    TIQ: I'm absolutely amazed that Hasbro has really taken that core idea to heart, and is really trying to expand that throughout, not just the show, but the entire franchise.

    TB: Yeah, the core tenet of the brand it is "friendship is magic." And when you really think about that it's something that works for everybody, is embraced by everybody, and makes everybody a little bit happier and a little bit better. At the end of the day, I think that's really what resonates with multi generations and parents and kids of any age and gender. Because friendship is something that really, truly is a magical thing. I think every time we turn around we're able to see a different way that you can bring it to life. That's the joy of working on a brand like this.

    TIQ: That's incredible. And speaking of cross promotion, August 29 was an absolute huge day for the books released from Little Brown, IDW Publishing, and all your other partners who publish books for My Little Pony brand. If I recall correctly there were over 20 books released on that day.

    TB: That's right.

    TIQ: The vast majority of them dedicated to My Little Pony: The Movie. With one of those books actually being the movie's novelization, so if someone wanted to find out the story of the film beforehand they could easily go up, buy that book, and read it.

    TB: Yes.

    TIQ: Which, hopefully will make them more excited to go actually see the film when it comes out later in October.

    TB: Well, that was kinda the strategy there *laughs* 'cause I think your first reaction would be, "What? Are they giving everything away?"

    It's pretty customary with animated films that you would release publications in advance. But, I really believe that people love these stories. They love to look at them, watch them, and read them in all different formats in all different ways.

    I really didn't feel that releasing that story would change anyone's desire to go and see the movie in theater because we see that with our fans. If you love Pinkie Pie, you love Pinkie Pie in all her different formats. And if you want to read about My Little Pony you probably also want to watch. And if you don't it's fine, too. Any way you want to consume and be a part of this story you can with Pony.

    TIQ: That actually sounds sort of like what the core concept of Equestria Girl. If people like Rainbow Dash as a pony, perhaps they'll like Rainbow Dash as a human. And apparently the answer to that was, "yes."

    TB: Exactly, you're right.

    TIQ: So you've got the books, you've got comics, you've got the toys, you've got the television show, you've got Equestria Girls, which apparently is really starting to push the boundaries of what can actually be done online with these upcoming specials. Can you potentially see any more opportunities for cross promotion going on with all of those medias combined, or more specific separate pushes going on?

    TB: One thing that we've seen with the brand overall is that if you, to exactly your point, love the story you like to see the story in all different formats. So even in the movie, there's sea ponies, our mane six become sea ponies. It offers us such an opportunity to show their personalities in different worlds. In pony world you're one way, in Equestria Girls world you're another way, but you're still who you are. You're still Rainbow Dash.

    And wouldn't we all love to say "I'll be a pony for a day" or "I'll be a sea pony for a day" and that fantasy allows us to bring it all to life.

    We really tried to give our fans the story that they love and want in different ways and be able to then also think about what the story would mean for them going forward. To answer your question in a round about way, the possibilities are endless and limitless. We'll definitely continue to bring the worlds ... I would say I don't know how much together, but definitely complimentary of one another, not separate.

    TIQ: Kind of like what ended up happening with the IDW prequel comic and the prequel book that came out from Little Brown—

    TB: Exactly! The thread is there.

    TIQ: The thread was there, and both of them end up telling the backstory for Tempest, along with a little bit more focus to one area than the other, but at the same time, if you read both you get the whole picture of what's going on with her.

    TB: You're perfect! You're the perfect demo. You're right in there!

    TIQ: Thank you, thank you so much.

    TB: Of course, my pleasure. Thank you so much for your enthusiasm about the brand, I love it!

    TIQ: Thank you. Before we go I just have one quick question for you. Is there anything you'd like to say to the readers of Equestria Daily?

    TB: I thank them. I thank them for continuing to be passionate, for continuing to think about Pony in a different and innovative way, to be part of the community, and just continue to spread the message of friendship.

    TIQ: Thank you so much.

    TB: No, thank you. It's awesome.