Roles for the Initiative – FCBD Rating Issues, Hasbro Responds to Alta Fox

Rolling for Initiative is a weekly column by Scott Thorne, PhD, owner of Castle Perilous Games & Books in Carbondale, Illinois and professor of marketing at Southeast Missouri State University. This week, Thorne notes some issues with the age coding of Free Comic Book Day comics and shares Hasbro’s response to the hedge fund urging it to spin off Wizards of the Coast.

Today was Free Comic Book Day so it was a bit of a hectic day here; especially when a guest cancels at the last minute and the staff is a few minutes late due to trains and red lights. Some thoughts:

Because of the nudity Barbaric (see “‘Barbaric'”) should have been a red color code title. Yes, there were only a few plaques of these, but that’s two more than I would want for a child, or more importantly, that child’s mother looking at the pile of books her child picked up from us . Nudity is still problematic in graphic books aimed at all ages.

On the other hand, it would have helped if DC Comics had used the color code in their books. That Super Pets Book was obviously all ages and said so on the cover. However, the FCBD logo used blue color coding, indicating it was for older children. Of course, DC also dubbed the event “Diamond’s Free Comic Book Day,” so not sure if they’ll remain part of the event going forward.

In 2020, I argued that Hasbro might consider selling the company’s Wizards of the Coast division (see “Who Might Buy WotC”). After further consideration, primarily based on the division’s profitability within the overall company, I decided that this would be a very unlikely move for the company (see “Another Reason Hasbro Won’t Sell WotC”). However, an activist group of investors with the same idea bought enough shares in the company to begin lobbying the company to spin off WotC in February (see “Hedge Fund Urges Hasbro to Spin Off WotC”). The Hasbro board is not happy with this idea and sends a letter to the shareholders, of which I am one, arguing against voting the activist list of candidates for the board, stating in part:

“We believe this proxy fight comes at an inopportune time, Alta Fox’s agenda will not create value for shareholders and its nominees will not provide useful experiences to Hasbro’s board of directors or the company. Chris Cocks, who became CEO just eight weeks ago, has doubled the size of the Wizards business over a three-year period from 2018 to 2021 (two years faster than our original goal) in his role as President and Chief Operating Officer. Chris’ track record and game plan that led to success at Wizards positions him ideally to lead and execute the optimal strategy to create long-term shareholder value by expanding Hasbro’s world-class portfolio of assets across multiple gaming and entertainment categories. We firmly believe that giving him the opportunity to execute his game plan is in your best interests as a shareholder and drive the performance of Hasbro as a whole.”

Essentially, the activist group believes WotC can generate more value as an independent company Magic the Gathering and dungeons as part of Hasbro. Will they succeed? I doubt it, but this suggests that other companies see WotC as a valuable asset.

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The opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of the ICv2.com editorial team.views of the ICv2.com editorial team. from ICv2.com.

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