Mattel Sharpening Focus on Fewer Brands

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Mattel is sharpening focus on five licensors and a core of it own properties as it moves to “stabilize” its business this year, company executives told analysts on Friday.

The move follows a year in which Mattel reorganized its business, hiring new CEO Margo Georgiadis as it sought to stem slowing sales amid Toys R Us filing for bankruptcy.

Among Mattel’s plans for 2018:

  • Mattel will focus on Disney, Warner Brothers, Universal Pictures, Nickelodeon and World Wrestling Entertainment properties as it goes narrower but deeper with licensed brands this year, Mattel executives said. In the case of Nickelodeon, Mattel is the master toy licensee for the network’s “Sunny Day” 26-episode series that debuted on Nick Jr. last August. Toys are due this fall. Mattel also is readying a broad array of Jurassic Park and Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom toys, the latter launching April 16 in front of the Universal film’s release on June 22. Mattel is master toy licensee for Jurassic Park, replacing Hasbro. Mattel created a version of its Matchbox line to feature Jurassic Park IP, replacing previous die-cast licensee Jada Toys.
  • The company is expanding its reach in films, signing an agreement with Director JJ Abrams’ Bad Robot Studios for an animated version of “The Beasties”. The film, details of which haven’t been released, features bug-eye characters that lend themselves to consumer products, gaming and live events, Mattel President-COO Richard Dickson said.
  • Mattel is revamping its Toy Box operation to focus on girls, construction, games and “disruptive fads,” Dickson said. Mega Bloks, which have featured Call of Duty and Halo licenses in the past, “will be more strategic” in licensing with an added emphasis on the pre-school category, Dickson said.
  • Barbie will add licensing with plans for a co-branded doll featuring Hello Kitty apparel, Mattel’s Lisa McKnight said. Barbie also will enter coding. Licensee Tynker, which has an educational programming platform aimed at teaching children to make games and programs, will introduce seven Barbie-branded coding lessons this fall.
  • Mattel is moving to revive its Thomas the Tank Engine brand, which struggled with declining sales last year. Nickelodeon will launch a new “Thomas the Tank Engine: Big World Big Adventures!” TV series in the spring and Mattel will extend the brand in live events with the opening of a Thomas Town section in Kennywood Park in Pittsburgh, PA and continuation of live stage shows in China and play areas in Dubai.