Pay no attention to the CEO behind the DM Screen

Hasbro leader Chris Cocks wears his tabletop bonafides like any other suit.

Pay no attention to the CEO behind the DM Screen
Photo by Gian-Luca Riner / Unsplash

Throughout a dismal year for the toy and tabletop giant Hasbro, CEO Chris Cocks has been running the media circuit like a fading film star, speaking to tech publications about how his company’s post-Larian breakup phase will be better than ever. Hasbro’s been going to the gym, working on themselves, flirting with AI tech integration, etc.

This isn’t a new strategy. C-Suite executives with any media training often drum up rounds of interviews and profiles when their recent financial quarters are littered with layoffs and plummeting stock prices. They would much rather the public focus on a shiny, new future–to wit, Cocks spoke to The Wall Street Journal about adultifying Hasbro’s kid-focused business into one that markets brands to adults; he told VentureBeat all about the potential of AI to create new “content” (biggest scare quotes) from Dungeons & Dragons’ decades of published creative work; and earlier this week he appeared on Boston-based NPR newsroom WBUR to discuss layoffs, the OGL fiasco and several other setbacks in the company’s recent history.

As someone who has read perhaps too many of Cocks’ quotes, this last appearance stood out not so much for its content but how the CEO’s well-maintained veneer as ‘the gamers’ president’ is quickly losing its polish. When asked why the December 2023 layoffs also hit Wizards of the Coast–Hasbro’s most profitable branch–he said the sweeping staff cuts were “more around just kind of changing priorities in a rapidly growing and developing business” and “making these tough trade-offs around how we preserve our cost base, drive our growth and think about where we want to go in the future of the company.”