Barbie owner Mattel doubles down on strategy to expand brands as sales slump

Mattel is seeking to tap into the potential of the value of the IP it owns on brands including Barbie, Polly Pocket, Barney and Hot Wheels following the success of the Barbie movie, which opened last week.

A still from the recent Barbie film, released last week. Source: Mattel

Barbie owner Mattel says it will look to “capture the full value of our iconic brands outside the toy aisle”, a commitment that comes as it reports a 12% drop in sales for the quarter.

Total net sales for the company, which also owns the Hot Wheels, Monster High and the Uno toy and game brands as well as Barbie, for the quarter were $1.1bn (£849m), down from $1.2bn (£926m) in the same period last year.

Despite the success of the Barbie movie, released to much hype last week, gross sales for the brand were also down 7% year-over-year on a reported basis. The company attributed the brand’s decline in sales partly to the shifting of promotional activity to align with the theatrical release of the movie.

More widely, Mattel attributed its declining sales to retailers reducing inventories as well as industry-wide trends.

“The toy industry declined more than we expected in the second quarter,” CEO Ynon Kreiz told investors on a call overnight (26 July).

The release of the Barbie movie was hailed as “incredibly successful” by Kreiz. While this success is yet to show up in the company’s most recent quarterly results, the CEO did detail encouraging signs for the brand commercially.

“With the success of the Barbie movie and our robust marketing plans for the second half, we have seen improving trends with Barbie’s month-to-date POS [point of sale] in July turning positive,” he said.

Mattel does believe the film will give the Barbie brand a boost; however, it has also given the company confidence to pursue a strategy of effectively utilising its IP away from toys.

“One of the takeaways of the success of the Barbie movie is our ability to execute our demand creation expertise outside the toy aisle,” Kreiz said.

Alongside the film the Barbie movie music album has also been released, featuring stars including Lizzo, Dua Lipa and Nicki Minaj. The company has launched over 165 consumer product partnerships to coincide with the movie.

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All this has brought Barbie to “a new level of cultural relevance” Kreiz said, adding it is taking inspiration from the success elsewhere and looking to extrapolate it to its other brands.

“We think of it as a template in terms of our ability to execute such a comprehensive programme of consumer product partnerships,” he said.

This template will be rolled out in Mattel’s approach to other films looking forward. Many of the company’s brands, including Polly Pocket, Barney and Hot Wheels, have films scheduled in the pipeline at various stages of development.

Kreiz told investors the company will follow “ the same methodology in collaborating with top talent in inspiring, in amplifying and trusting and promoting top talent and then bringing our marketing machine and demand creative capabilities to create special, iconic moments in culture.”

Speaking to Marketing Week earlier this month, Mattel’s global head of Barbie and dolls portfolio, Lisa McKnight said the company always wanted Barbie to be a credible movie.

“We were always clear that we did not want a live action film to be a commercial for toys,” she said.

During the call to investors, Kreiz praised the company’s “world-class” marketing organisation for its efforts around the Barbie movie. He also announced the promotion of McKnight to Mattel chief brand officer and executive vice president.



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  1. aarun ai 29 Jul 2023

    Thanks for sharing this article . Was useful and informative.


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