It appears Baby Einstein isn’t the only company peddling products that may retard our children. On Tuesday, toy maker Mattel announced its second major recall in as many weeks.
We already know Dora the Explorer can crank dat, but who knew that a brand extension would crank out such controversy?
It was a slow year for gaming at the CES, and one glimpse of the future left us scratching our heads. Mattel’s Mind Flex, described by the pitchman as the “future of gaming,” converts theta brain waves into radio frequency signals that direct a small fan to move a light-weight ball through an obstacle course. We recognize and respect the potential, but wonder whether this simplistic application of the technology will inspire or underwhelm potential investors. Mattel also unveiled the Barbie Digital Nail Printer, which connects to your pc and prints custom designs directly on the fingernails. We love that the product, much like the recent ad campaign, promotes parent-child play and individuality.
Mattel's new Barbie spot takes an interesting approach to marketing the iconic doll. Speaking directly to moms , "Wanna Play?" blends High8 flashbacks of young girls opening their first Barbies with young mothers discussing their favorite Barbie memories with sisters and friends. "Wanna Play" encourages thirty-something mothers to both share the past and create the next generation of Barbie memories with their daughters.
The Giants of the Industry Are Creeping Onto Each Other's Turfs.
Toys R Us Inc TOY.UL is betting on variety to hit its sales targets this holiday season, with toys ranging from Mattel's $13 plush toys that sing in perfect harmony with every squeeze, to a $110 remote-controlled monster "Bigfoot." The world's largest dedicated toy retailer is also offering more exclusives and opening more temporary stores to win shoppers this year.
Mattel Inc. is embarking on an expensive strategy to create a new toy craze from scratch, with the movies and TV shows coming on its heels—an abrupt departure from usual procedure. In fact, the Monster High toys are the least of it. The company is aiming for an entertainment juggernaut, with books, movies, clothing, and anything else it can think of, in addition to the dolls. Mattel, the world's largest toy company, is feeling Disney envy, experts say.
Though the toy and movie industries have become increasingly intertwined, when they work together, it's because one of the two has usually made the first step: A popular doll is turned into a movie, or a movie inspires a line of dolls. But now, Mattel, the world's No. 1 toy company, is making the next inevitable hop up the evolutionary ladder of synergy: Vulture has learned that Mattel challenged its designers to come up with a new toy line that could simultaneously be turned into a TV show, feature film, or game, for the ultimate branding weapon. And last month, out of the top five inventions, the powers that be selected the best potential feature-film subject, and have now partnered with prolific producer Neal Moritz (the Fast and Furious franchise), who will soon start looking for screenwriters.
Move over, Amazon. Consumer-products makers, squeezed by private-label goods at retailers like Wal-Mart, are hawking their wares directly to buyers online.
When it comes to innovation, many executives in the consumer goods industry are chasing Apple. Who can blame them? While most retailers spent the holiday season slashing prices, Apple reported record earnings by enchanting audiences with iPhones. Now, as retailers try to re-engage consumers this year, executives are trying to replicate the "Apple thrill." But focusing exclusively on product innovation is a mistake for most companies, say executives who gathered recently at Berglass + Associates, my company, to discuss innovation.
It's a changing world in the toy business. Kids are focusing more of their attention on visual pursuits -- not just television and movies, but increasingly, video games and online entertainment. That means toy makers are scrambling to reinvent their brands and keep up with the times. Hasbro, the second largest US toy maker behind Mattel, is making a big Hollywood push to remain competitive.
With so few black dolls on toy-store shelves, many black parents had high hopes when toy powerhouse Mattel Inc. released So in Style, its first line of black dolls with wider noses, fuller lips, sharper cheekbones and a variety of skin shades. Now, despite the company's efforts to solicit input from a group of high-profile black women, including Cookie Johnson, wife of former basketball star Magic Johnson, some parents are saying the dolls aren't black enough. They complain that five of the six dolls feature fine-textured, waist-length hair; half of them have blue or green eyes. Moreover, all have the freakishly skinny body of a Barbie (something that irks some white parents as well).
GMAC has changed its name to "Ally," AIG has become "AIU," and we're supposed to think there's a difference. The new branding comes on the heels of some very aggressive communications from many of the survivors of the financial meltdown, most of which delivers a variation on a theme that could broadly be expressed as "we've been in business forever, and we care about you, so trust us." So was the breakdown of investment ratings, actual returns, and the implicit (and sometimes explicit) promises of suitability and reliability just a blip?
Barbie turns 50 this month, and to shake off a midlife crisis she's getting tattooed and opening the doors to her first megastore in China.
To cope with slumping sales, toy makers are trying to breathe new life into some old brands. This year, Zizzle LLC is rolling out a doll called P.J. Sparkles that has a tiara that lights up and a dress that can be transformed into pajamas. But the line isn't new: It was retired by Mattel Inc., its original manufacturer, nearly 20 years ago.
This promises to be a year of contradictions in the toy industry. Even as video games and high-tech electronics permeate almost every aisle in the toy store, back-to-basics categories such as board games and building sets are seeing solid growth. It will be a year of playing to kids' demand for digital, even as their parents stage a retreat, both in budget spending and in a nostalgic bid for less-technological days gone by.
This March, Barbie Millicent Roberts will turn 50. We know her as the age-immune creature Barbie, 11 1/2 inches of plastic delivered by Mattel onto our cultural landscape in a zebra-striped bathing suit. She has been painted by Warhol, scrutinized by intellectuals, sabotaged by pranksters, pilloried by cultural critics and purchased more than a billion times.
Barbie turns 50 next year, and her luster has faded over the years. Now, Mattel Inc. executives have begun a sweeping makeover of the doll's marketing in advance of her birthday. The goal: to make Barbie fashionable again with older girls, who are dropping her for other, edgier playthings like video games.