Mattel’s Diversity, Content, Retail Efforts Have Positive ROI Impact


Mattel Barbie

In January, Mattel announced its new Barbie Fashionistas line with petite, curvy and tall body types, seven new skin tones and various hairstyles—earning it the cover of Time magazine.

Now the largest US toymaker is seeing the success of diversity with shares rising nearly 6 percent and a worldwide sales increase of 15.8 percent in Q3 2016. Barbie sales jumped 16% compared to the same period last year and, along with American Girl, helped power Mattel to net income of $236 million in Q3.

Part of its success stems from Mattel’s new campaigns like “You Can Be Anything,” emphasizing the potential of women in various professions.

Mattel Creations recently formed a multi-year partnership to develop cross-platform content by leveraging Tongal’s network of more than 120,000 creators.

The joint goal is to develop and produce “an amplified slate of content” based on Mattel’s library and intellectual property while Tongal uses its platform, marketplace acumen and experience to inform Mattel’s digital content strategy worldwide, according to the press release.

“Mattel Creations is dedicated to discovering new ways to share creative, captivating stories across all platforms. Our partnership with Tongal and its robust network of creators will enable us to build out an innovative, scalable offering of content for all channels and markets around the world,” said Mattel CCO Catherine Balsam-Schwaber, of the announcment. “Tongal is re-defining the content model and we look forward to working closely with their team to further our brand strategies and build our storytelling platform.”

Tongal’s community will develop premium original content for digital and linear channels along with TV spots, digital ads and social content promoting the brand. The first project, a behind-the-scenes special complementing Amazon Original Special An American Girl Story—Melody 1963: Love Has to Win, premiers on Amazon Prime Video in November.

Tongal has worked with more than 10 Mattel brands including American Girl, Thomas & Friends and Hot Wheels, as well as with LEGO, Nestlé, NASA, Unilever and General Motors.

Mattel continues to leverage the strength of its brands. In August, it announced a multi-year partnership with Toys “R” Us to open nearly 100 American Girl mini-shops within store locations to reach a wider customer base. Mattel products are also available in 1,100 Kohl’s locations.

“We continue to make some very good progress,” Mattel CEO Christopher Sinclair told analysts about the positive financial picture. “We continue to see real strength in our core brands.”

“I think seeing that positive point of sale momentum bodes well that there is that demand from consumers,” agreed Jefferies analyst Trevor Young. “It’s not just filling shelves for the holiday season.”

Barbie is proof that old dolls can learn new tricks—and that Mattel’s notion of diversity might be able to fill store shelves for a long time to come.