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The Revitalization of Mattel

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Mattel execs share how the company's "garage" days help build new properties and invigorate historical brands at the Licensing Expo Virtual keynote.

Richard Dickson, president, chief operating officer, and Roz Nowicki, head, global consumer products, franchise marketing, Mattel, gave a fireside chat on Day 3 of Licensing Expo Virtual on "Mattel and Living Its Brand Purpose." 

The keynote brought to life the company's purpose to empower the next generation to explore the wonders of childhood and reach their full potential.

Nowicki, who joined Mattel in late 2020, asked Dickson about his insight for what he calls "the Mattel playbook." 

"For me, it's about staying close to culture and in tune with what's happening, being curious, and, of course, taking calculated risks, and truthfully, most importantly, surrounding myself with most talented people," says Dickson. "To do that, those brands have to know who they are and what they stand for. At Mattel, I've made brand purpose an important priority and a pathway I believe in navigating with cultural relevance." 

Nowicki addressed the revitalization of the Barbie brand and Dickson shared how the current Barbie consumer product line strengthens the entire IP at Mattel. 

"Revitalizing any brand is a team effort," says Dickson. "I worked with a team that shared my vision, which at that time was revitalizing Barbie from a doll into a pop culture icon. We executed this globally in ways that create legacy moments for the brand. The talented designers, marketers, our commercial organization, the licensees – the people we worked with were an important part of that narrative that we presented to the world. Retail partnerships were important as they helped us execute and merchandise our narratives, so many partners contributed to the success of that chapter for the brand. At that time, and now we look at the whole company. Similarly, our corporate transformation of Mattel into an IP-driven, high-performing toy company is working. It's not just one brand; it's across our portfolio. And I believe what's so exciting is that we've just started."

Another revised Mattel brand is the "Masters of the Universe" franchise, relaunching as an animated series on Netflix with a licensed product rollout to follow. Dickson says passionate fans of the franchise are helping to relaunch the franchise. 

"The good news for us is the fan base has never stopped believing," says Dickson. "So many parents want to share their favorite childhood toy with their kids. The archive of 'Masters' literally leaped out at us. This is a big opportunity." 

Nowicki noted the profound changes at Mattel in its 76 years of business and Dickson shared how it has impacted the company today.

"It goes back to the origin story of the startup days in our garage where the company was founded, where collaboration, innovation and excellence in execution were combined to create hit after hit and truly some of the greatest brands in the world," says Dickson. "They thrived on change. I mean, they were looking to create products and narratives that were going to create influencing change, and, and through that, they created one of the greatest toy companies in the world. I work hard and passionately to continue to drive that 'garage spirit' through innovation and creativity."

A cornerstone for the Mattel consumer product line is what Nowicki called "executional excellence."

"You have to bring ideas to market better and faster than the people to the left and the right of the view," says Dickson. "You need to execute them incredibly effectively. Mattel is just good at it."

Mattel concentrates on sustainability, which Dickson notes is "not a trend, but here to stay."  

"Mattel just released a report that give the community global insight into how we're progressing against goals that are fairly aggressive; you know we're making progress," says Dickson. "We're not perfect, but we've done incredible work recently with some of our brands that have delivered a great sustainable message. Barbie, in particular, has been at the forefront of sustainability; we just recently in June launched a campaign called 'Pink is the New Green.'" 

To watch the entire Mattel keynote on-demand, go to LicensingExpo.com

 

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