Richard Dickson Appointed Chief Brands Officer for Mattel

logo_Mattel logoMattel Inc. has created a new, unified marketing and creative division to span the company’s global portfolio of consumer brands. To lead this new global brand team, the company has tapped Richard Dickson to be its chief brands officer, with responsibility for growing and strengthening the company’s portfolio of beloved brands, including Barbie, Hot Wheels, Fisher-Price, and Thomas & Friends.

Dickson will oversee all aspects of marketing strategy, creative execution, product development, and content creation across Mattel’s legacy and new brands, and will be responsible for driving innovation throughout the portfolio. He will report directly to Mattel CEO Bryan Stockton and will serve as a member of the company’s executive leadership team. [Read more...]

COMMENTARY: Role Play Toys Engage Kids in Superhero Action

It’s no secret that kids are extremely influenced by the characters they see in movies and on TV. Superheroes are particularly influential, with their mankind-saving tendencies and super-human abilities. The best thing about superheroes is that they appeal to kids and adults alike, since many of the iconic superheroes we know and love have been around for decades. Fisher-Price’s DC Super Friends line is geared toward kids as young as 3 years old, and Lego will introduce DC characters into its Duplo line for the first time this year. While play sets and building blocks are popular play patterns for kids and adding their favorite superheroes to the mix is a great way to get kids excited, the toys that make kids feel like they are becoming their favorite superhero are some of the most engaging toys on the market.

Everyone’s favorite friendly neighborhood Spider-Man is now back on the block with new enemies. The Amazing Spider-Man 2 opened in theaters Friday, May 2, and now kids can take home all of the web-slinging action, thanks to Hasbro’s intense line of role-play and action figure toys.

Marissa.May13.Hasbro.SPIDER-MAN-MOTORIZED-SPIDER-FORCE-WEB-BLASTERWith the wrist-mounted Motorized Spider Force Web Blaster, kids can fire foam discs featuring web embellishments up to 20 feet with rapid speed. Each Motorized Spider Force Web Blaster comes with 10 Nerf foam discs that can be stored in the storage compartment on the top of the toy so they won’t get lost. Don’t worry—the foam discs are harmless and don’t hurt if you get hit with them. Designed for kids ages 5 and up, kids can take on any villain with this fun role-play toy. I should also note—it’s unbelievably fun for adults, too (especially if you have kids around willing to scoop up the discs for you). Just don’t let the name fool you—there are no messy webs with this product, just soft, foam discs! [Read more...]

Mattel’s First Quarter Results Include Gross Sales Decline for Top Brands

logo_Mattel logoMattel reported 2014 first quarter financial results, which included a decline in worldwide sales for Barbie, but strength in some of the company’s other girls brands.

For the first quarter, worldwide gross sales for Mattel girls and boys brands were $656.9 million, down 5 percent versus the previous year. This included a decline in worldwide gross sales for the Barbie brand of 14 percent. Worldwide gross sales for Mattel’s other girls brands increased 4 percent on the strength of Disney Princess and Ever After High, partially offset by Monster High. [Read more...]

WIT Honors Outstanding Business Leaders with 10th Annual Wonder Women in Toys, Licensing & Entertainment Awards

At a February 18 dinner attended by more than 400 executives, Women in Toys (WIT) celebrated 10 visionary women business leaders with the 2014 Wonder Women in Toys, Licensing & Entertainment Awards. The award recipients are: Kiyomi Haverly of Mattel, Global Brands; Naz Cuevas of Rovio Entertainment Inc. and Donna Tobin of Hasbro Inc.; Rita Raiffe, design director at Gund; Stefanie Barone of M.Z. Berger & Co.; Susie Lecker of Fisher Price; Michele Litzky of Litzky Public Relations; Joan Packard Luks of The Seranata Group; Christina Jansa of Target; and Debra Sterling of GoldieBlox.

With support from major sponsors including Nickelodeon and Bandai, WIT also granted six scholarships to future toy industry leaders at toy design programs in universities worldwide.

Fisher-Price, Neat-Oh! Partner for Thomas & Friends ZipBin Products

Neat-Oh! Entertainment International LLC has signed an agreement with Fisher-Price Inc. to develop Thomas & Friends Wooden Railway storage products for Neat-Oh!’s ZipBin line. Characters from the Thomas and Friends show will join the ZipBin family—a new play, stow, and go line of products. ZipBin products transform from storage container to themed play-mat in a few zips, and are designed to be stackable and portable. When zipped up, the bin is decorated to look like Thomas, but when the bin is unzipped, a play mat is revealed. Children can use their Wooden Railway engines and accessories to play on the mat, which features scenes, destinations, and friends from the TV show.

Thomas & Friends ZipBin products by Fisher-Price are expected to arrive in stores next year.

Mattel Launches First Multi-Brand Hispanic Integrated Campaign

logo_Mattel logoIn preparation for the holidays, Mattel Inc. has launched its first ever Spanish-language multi-brand marketing campaign, toy feliz. Already live in Los Angeles, Houston, and Miami, this Hispanic-oriented effort spans multi-media marketing platforms and key brands, including Fisher-Price, Hot Wheels, and Barbie.

The campaign includes TV and radio advertising on Univision, a retail partnership with Walmart, a bilingual website, geo-targeted coupons, and printed advertising inserts in participating markets. Mattel has even partnered with Padres Contra El Cáncer to help in the non-profit’s mission to provide emotional and financial support, as well as bilingual health education, to children with cancer and their families. As part of the partnership, Mattel is sponsoring Padres’ annual holiday parties, which provide families who have a child undergoing treatment with the opportunity to enjoy the holidays in a fun-filled and safe environment. Mattel will also make donations to Padres families at local Los Angeles and Miami hospitals.

Fisher-Price Launches Share the Joy! Campaign

Laugh & LearnFisher-Price has launched a new holiday digital advertising campaign called, “Share the Joy,” which stems away from traditional product features to original video vignette-ads. The three videos each have its own distinct story line and feature a holiday carol including, “Jingle Bells,” “Deck the Halls,” and “Carol of the Bells” with re-written lyrics from a child’s point of view.

The brands and products highlighted in the videos include Laugh & Learn, Little People, and Imaginext. You can watch them and find sharable coupons on Fisher-Price.com/SharetheJoy.

Fisher-Price Continues as Master Toy Partner for Silvergate Media’s Octonauts

OctonautsUK independent entertainment company, Silvergate Media has signed a renewal deal with Fisher-Price Inc. to continue as master toy partner for its preschool property Octonauts.

During its first term, branded toys have hit shelves across the UK, France, Germany, Australia, and the U.S. with an exclusive Toys “R” Us launch.

The animated adventure series has been sold in more than 100 territories and is broadcast on CBeebies in the UK, Disney Junior in the U.S., ABC in Australia, and SuperRTL’s Toggolino in Germany. The extension of the master toy deal will not only bring new toys, but build on the successful broadcast platform as well.

COMMENTARY: Why I Love Elmo

by Laurie Schacht, Toy Insider Mom

bighugsI’ve loved Elmo for as long as I can remember … and I’m not alone! He spans generations of boys, girls, kids, and adults. And while one might be able to argue that Mickey Mouse has the same appeal (and in many ways he does), every year there’s a brand new Elmo for a brand new group of kids to bring home and to love. But be warned, not all Elmo’s are alike.

When my kids were toddlers Elmo came in the form of a simple stuffed animal. He was cherished by all my girls, but especially my oldest, now 23. Today, she still adores him. I’ve actually had my ups and downs with Elmo (though my true love for him never really falters) as he has engaged in the world of technology.

Every holiday season I’m asked, “What’s the new Tickle Me Elmo this year?” and I think to myself, “I hope there isn’t one.”  Yes, Tickle Me Elmo, from Fisher-Price, was a retailer’s and a manufacturer’s dream toy—a toy retailers couldn’t keep in stock because demand was so high, and at the time, no one had ever seen such innovation in plush. Add the Elmo factor and it was a solid hit (followed by a few more, such as the extreme version). But while it was sold out everywhere, sold for huge markups by individuals, and fought over in stores—and as cool as the innovation was—this was not my favorite Elmo. I could never watch Elmo laugh or roll over on the floor, pounding the floor and laughing, without full out laughing myself. The problem was that I was just watching. [Read more...]

COMMENTARY: Putting It Together

Ever since I was a kid, I have been a huge fan of puzzles. I am, by no means, a patient person, but there is something so calming and relaxing about trying to figure out how 1,000 pieces fit together to create a picture. New puzzles on the market are taking the traditional toy to a whole new level for all ages. With additions like a fourth dimension, augmented reality, or sound effects, puzzles are keeping up with the changing times and adapting for new generations. Here are some of my favorite puzzles on the market, each with its own little added twist.

4D Cityscape History Puzzle - New York City 2013The puzzles from 4D Cityscape are quite the undertaking, but they are definitely rewarding and educational at the same time. The key to 4D Cityscape puzzles are the fourth dimension: time. Puzzle builders put together a 3-D puzzle of a city, and then add the buildings, structures, and landmarks in order according to a provided timeline, learning the history of the city as well as the layout. This 4-D adventure allows you to explore the cities of the world, including New York, London, Paris, Tokyo, and more. A personal favorite of mine is the upcoming 4-D puzzle of Westeros, that was introduced by HBO at Comic-Con International: San Diego (and that I gushed about, along with other great Game of Thrones products, here). Whether you’re exploring the real world or a fictional one, 4D Cityscape puzzles are an entertaining way to travel—without all those pesky airline regulations. [Read more...]