Mattel Banks on Barbie to Turn Around its Fortunes – The Average Joe
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    Mattel Banks on Barbie to Turn Around its Fortunes

    victorlei

    July 10, 2023

    Toymaker Mattel has a lot riding on the Barbie movie — set to release on July 21. The toy company has 27% of its revenue linked to Barbie — and is still finding its way after a decade of missteps:

    • The 2019 recall of its Rock ‘n Play Sleepers was tied to ~100 infant deaths (and again in 2023).
    • Losing a license to make Disney’s princess toys in 2016 (before getting it back last year).
    • The bankruptcy of one of its largest partners, Toys “R” Us, and a scandal revealing Mattel execs hiding an accounting error.

    Salt on the wound: Last year, competitor Hasbro (NASDAQ:HAS) overtook Mattel as the world’s largest toy company.

    The toy business is low-growth, and Mattel’s revenue has largely stayed flat over the past 20 years. Mattel is on a marketing blitz to promote the Barbie movie and prove that it can sell more than toys:

    • What’s in store? Pink Barbie handbags at Neiman Marcus, Barbie electric toothbrushes from Ulta Beauty and a Barbie Xbox from Microsoft.
    • Per the WSJ, Mattel’s COO expects growth from these franchise deals to be “exponential” with “the bigger opportunity… outside of the toy aisle.”

    Turning films into merch sales

    Following Disney’s footsteps, Mattel is monetizing its intellectual property — with 100+ partnerships for Barbie merch and another 14 films in development, including a Masters of the Universe film and a live-action Hot Wheels.

    The company saw early success with merch tied to the release of the Transformers series back in 2007 — giving it a major revenue and earnings boost.

    Mattel is at less than half of its peak market value of $16B in 2013 — but its recent moves have its CEO declaring Mattel finally back in “growth mode.”

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