St. Charles Entrepreneur Bob Mackey develops what he hopes to be the next “big” thing in the toy business.
St. Charles, Illinois: November 30, 2018 - After six-years of product development, St. Charles entrepreneur Robert Mackey is ready to roll out what he hopes will be the next “big” thing in the toy industry, an interactive joke-telling “best friend” named It’s Me, Norman™.
It’s Me, Norman™ is an 18” interactive doll programmed to tell knock knock jokes with the press of a button, and has been in development for the past four years.
“What kid do you know who doesn’t love a ‘knock knock’ joke?” asks Mackey. “Telling knock knock jokes is universal and as much a part of childhood as eating ice cream or throwing a ball. Hearing our children laugh at something silly for that small window of time when kids can just be kids, is a stage of development we as parents and grandparents treasure.”
The idea for Norman came to Mackey when his neighbor’s 5-year old son came running across the lawn to share a knock knock joke he had just learned. The laughter was infectious and hilarity ensued when one tried to top the other with original jokes. The idea for Norman was born that day.
Growing up on Long Island in a large family with four brothers and one sister, Mackey says he was “in the middle, before Malcolm”. As a shy youngster, Mackey remembers often telling jokes as a way to make friends and entertain his family. “I created It’s Me, Norman™ to capture a child's imagination and offer them a special pal who loves to laugh as much as they do. Norman offers kids an option to unplug for a little while, and be actively silly and socially engaged,” he said. The best part of It’s Me, Norman™ according to Mackey is that the kids have to play along to make it happen.
During the toy’s development, Mackey arranged to have Norman introduced to children in several schools, and the response was overwhelming. Not only were the kids delighted by the doll, but the feedback received from teachers, parents and grandparents was quite heartwarming.
It’s Me, Norman™ is available on QVC.com, as well as some select stores in the Chicagoland area.
About Robert Mackey
Proving there’s life after a 38-year career in corporate America, Robert Mackey is just getting started. He has combined passion, logic and personal experience to all aspects of marketing, branding, merchandising and leadership over the course of his long retail career. Most of it was spent with Sears, where he helped run well over $1B in retail sales for his Division of Lawn & Garden. Following Sears, he worked for Home Shopping Network (HSN) buying, innovating and marketing a wide range of products for the company’s 24/7 sales cycle.
A keen sense of future trends that is one-part evolved and one-part intuitive has reinforced his industry reputation as a retail “ideas guy”. After HSN, as he puts it, “It was time to do my own thing.” He established Norman and Friends, LLC and put his ideas in motion.
Mackey resides in St. Charles, IL with his wife of 40 years and his overly enthusiastic Wheaten terrier, Teddi. He has two grown sons, and two wonderful daughters-in-law. He just became a grandfather for the first time and if he has anything to do with it, bets that his grandson’s first words will be “knock knock”.