Mattel’s ‘robust marketing’ pays off with Barbie sales uplift

Barbie sales grew 16% in the last quarter off the back of Barbie-mania this summer, with its CEO crediting its ‘innovative’ marketing arm.

Mattel has reported a positive sales uplift for the first time in a year today (26 October), which chairman and CEO Ynon Kreiz attributes to the blockbuster success of this summer’s Margot Robbie-fronted Barbie film.

Barbie’s sales worldwide increased 16% year-on-year, growing from $519.6m (£430m) last year to $605.1m (£500.8m) this last quarter. In North America, Barbie sales were up 26%.

Kreiz praised the Barbie film for contributing to its third quarter results. “Our results benefited from the success of the Barbie movie, which became a global cultural phenomenon, and marked a key milestone for Mattel,” he said.

The business’s CFO Anthony DiSilvestro also praised Mattel’s “robust marketing efforts” for helping Barbie doll sales.

How Barbie got ‘comfortable being uncomfortable’ to strengthen its brandMattel’s overall sales grew 9% in the quarter to $1.9bn (£1.6bn), making it the first quarter since Q3 2022 that the business has reported sales growth.

The Barbie film was seen as a big gamble from Mattel, with the business rumoured to have spent more than $100m (£83m) on the marketing for it.

Kreiz told investors he didn’t think Mattel’s marketing capability was “fully recognised” beyond the “toy eye” before the Barbie film.

“We are a creative company, we’re an innovative company, but we are also experts in demand creation,” he said. “We leverage our capabilities and our retail reach and expertise to promote and market the movie together with Warner Brothers, who did an excellent job, but we truly amplify that and turn it into a cultural phenomenon.”

This rhymes with what Mattel’s global head of Barbie and dolls portfolio told Marketing Week this summer: “We were always clear that we did not want a live action film to be a commercial for toys,” said Lisa McKnight.

While the sales uplift is positive, Mattel is maintaining its full year guidance, suggesting it perhaps does not expect the Barbie movie effect to boost sales in the fourth quarter.

“We are operating in a challenging macroeconomic environment with higher volatility that may impact consumer demand,” said DiSilvestro.