This is Why Wallmart Invested $250 Million in eko

KidHQ is filling a gap left behind by shuttered toy stores and old-school catalogs, and in the process is reinventing how brands connect with people,”

— Ivy Sheibar, CBO of eko.

When interactive content platform and creators eko received a massive investment from Wallmart, it left many curious what the store chain had planned for the medium. Were they bringing interactive, streaming content to VUDU? And if so, wasn’t their $250 million a bit over-the-top considering the jury is still out on how interactive fiction will play out over the long term?

Well, today eko and Wallmart launched KidHQ, a bold immersive advertising experience that the chain sees as being on the leading edge of online retail promotion.

KidHQ welcomes kids to a multi-floor digital headquarters with branded experiences from Walmart (Walmart Toy Lab), and Mattel (The Barbie Dream Floor) currently with more brands and floors to be announced soon.

Kids can interact with various toys, rate them, add them to their wish lists, all while being reminded by the actors that “this is advertising”.

The BuzzFeed-produced experience was designed for kids to experience the evolution of toy unboxing and offer parents valuable insights on what their kids really want.

“Being a retailer isn’t simply about selling items anymore – it’s about creating an experience for our customers,” Anne Marie Kehoe, Walmart’s vice president of toys explained. “The Walmart Toy Lab is a way for us to create a digital experience for kids to really see our Top Rated toys in action as we enter the holiday season.”

[Related: eko to produce 12 interactive pilots]

“Increasingly, we are looking to give kids new ways to create an imaginative world around their beloved Mattel brands and characters,” said Janet Hsu, Chief Franchise Officer, Mattel. “The ‘Barbie DreamFloor at KidHQ’ does just that, putting kids in the driver’s seat so that they can create their own Barbie interactive experiences.”

“KidHQ is filling a gap left behind by shuttered toy stores and old-school catalogs, and in the process is reinventing how brands connect with people,” said Ivy Sheibar, CBO of eko. “I have young children and know first hand that kids have grown accustomed to interacting and playing with technology. KidHQ fulfills these expectations by inviting kids to choose what happens next throughout the experience rather than passively consuming content. At eko, we believe it’s the future for entertainment and brands alike.”

In additional to innovative advertising experiences, Wallmart and eko are, yes, also partnering on a slate of interactive fiction and non-fiction series.

More on those as details emerge.


THE PULSE is out now on Google Play

Our sci-fi text adventure The Pulse is out now. Our novels New Horizons and The Blue Moon are also available now.

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