Christopher Nadeau ’01 Gives Toys Shelf Appeal
Christopher Nadeau ’01 is a kid at heart. He’s also director of global creative development for boy brands at Hasbro, where being a kid at heart is practically a job requirement. His typical workday includes meetings where the intricacies of zombies, blasters, and action figures are on the agenda. Attending Toy Fair in New York City and the San Diego Comic-Con are considered professional development.
But his work isn’t all fun and games. Leading a team of 24 graphic designers, Nadeau is responsible for defining and shaping the overall brand and packaging design strategy for some of Hasbro’s most recognizable brands, including Nerf, Transformers, and G.I. Joe. He and his team work closely with illustrators, photographers, marketers, writers, and others to create a look and feel that resonates with Hasbro’s primary audience: children of all ages.
Storytelling by Design
In today’s consumer-driven culture, the front panel of packaging is more important than ever. From the colors used to the logo design to the images featured on the package, these elements work together to connect the brand with its fans and give products shelf appeal. This is especially true with toy packaging and kids, or “kidsumers,” as marketers have dubbed the generation of children born into the technological age and already brand-savvy. “Package design isn’t simply about making things attractive, it’s about telling stories,” says Nadeau, who majored in graphic design while at PSU.
Working for Hasbro is a dream come true to Nadeau, who grew up in Cranston, Rhode Island, not far from the company’s headquarters in Pawtucket. “Hasbro represents an extremely positive part of my childhood,” he says. “Brands like Transformers and G.I. Joe were favorites of mine growing up. The artwork on movie posters, in comic books, on products and packaging—they all inspired my inclination toward art and design as a child.”
Nadeau joined Hasbro as a graphic designer in 2011, after nearly a decade as a graphic designer and creative director for sporting goods manufacturer Franklin Sports. Since then, he has helped develop logos and package designs for some of Hasbro’s most popular products, including Nerf’s Zombie Strike and Rebelle blasters.
His current role meant leaving the hands-on creative work behind in favor of mentoring a team of graphic designers, but Nadeau was ready for the transition. “It’s a wonderful feeling to create a beautiful logotype and look for a product line,” he acknowledges, “but I’m at the point in my career where it’s even more rewarding to mentor someone to do their own beautiful work.”
Nadeau’s mentoring also extends to PSU graphic design students. When Hasbro created a graphic design internship program in 2014, he worked with his former professor and mentor David Martin, head of the graphic design program, to find the right students for the opportunity. “The internship program has been an incredibly positive experience; the students are well-prepared and professional,” says Nadeau, who comes to campus regularly to talk with graphic design students and interview potential interns. Two of the five students who have interned at Hasbro thus far have launched their careers with the company.
Considering that he works for a company that represents some of the world’s most beloved brands doing what he loves, collaborating with cool and talented people worldwide, and nurturing new talent, it’s no surprise that Chris Nadeau’s career satisfaction is off the charts. “There’s something magical about walking the aisles of a toy store and scanning the sea of products you’ve played a role in bringing to life,” he says. “I’m very grateful to have found my way to where I am now. I wouldn’t change a thing about my career. I’m exactly where I want to be.” –Barbra Alan
Top: Chris Nadeau joins forces with some stormtroopers at San Diego Comic Con. Photo courtesy of Chris Nadeau.
Tags: Barbra Alan BFA graphic design Chris Nadeau Christopher Nadeau David Martin graphic design Hasbro internships