Mattel lost its position as the world's biggest toymaker in 2017 to Hasbro (and indeed both companies have since been overtaken by LEGO). Historically, Mattel owed its years of prominence to a peroxide blonde named Barbie, still one of the world's best-selling toy brands after more than half a century. That made Mattel something of a specialist in toys for girls. However Barbie's sales came under intense pressure in the 2000s as rival dolls - not least Bratz and their successors - as well as new electronic toys muscled in to Barbie's territory. Mattel's own portfolio also houses supporting character doll brands Monster High, Polly Pocket and American Girl, but a devastating blow was the loss of the Disney Princesses franchise to Hasbro in 2015. The Mattel toy box holds a number of other well-known brands including Fisher-Price infant and toddler toys and a boys-oriented collection of model racing cars including Hot Wheels, Matchbox and Tyco. There are also several key licensing deals, with partners including Warner Bros/DC Comics, Disney Pixar and Star Wars, selected Universal Pictures releases and - from 2020 - Hello Kitty and other Sanrio characters outside Asia. A deal to acquire Hit Entertainment in 2011 gave Mattel ownership of its own lucrative licensing portfolio for pre-schoolers including Thomas & Friends, Bob The Builder, Barney, Pingu, Angelina Ballerina and Fireman Sam. However a separate deal to buy LEGO rival MEGA Bloks has been considerably less successful. The company has a smaller portfolio of board games than rival Hasbro, but it does control Scrabble and Pictionary outside the US, Ker-Plunk, Othello, UNO and Chatter Matters. Life remains tough for Mattel, and the slump in performance since 2012 led to the appointment of five different CEOs in just six years. The current incumbent is Ynon Kreiz, appointed in 2018. The collapse of key retail partner Toys R Us added to Mattel's woes. Revenues slipped to just over $4.5bn in 2019, the lowest figure for more than two decades, before edging up to $4.6bn in 2020. The company was back in the black with net income of $127m after three consecutive net losses totalling nearly $1.8bn. One notable bright spot was the recovery in sales of Barbie during 2020. That doll alone accounted for gross sales of $1.35bn in 2020, up 16% year-on-year after two decades of steady decline. Hot Wheels contributed a further $954m.
Capsule checked 16th April 2021
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Who are the competitors of Mattel? Mattel's main competitor is Hasbro, as well as Lego, Bandai, Tomy, Jakks Pacific, Leap Frog and MGA Entertainment. See also Toys & Games Sector index for other companies
Advertising expenditure for Mattel? See ranking of Declared Advertising Expenses
Historical profile information for Mattel
Adbrands Daily Update 23rd Oct 2020: Mattel generally - and Barbie in particular - have been unexpected beneficiaries of the surge in lockdown spending. The company smashed expectations for both sales and profits in 3Q helped by an extraordinary 29% jump in global sales of Barbie dolls, and a 35% rise for North America alone. It is that brand's best performance for more than two decades. Boys' action figures and board games also performed strongly (up 14% combined) and Hot Wheels and other car toys more modestly (6%). Those lifts offset a decline in pre-school toys. Anecdotal evidence points to a move by parents to buy non-screen-based toys to occupy their children's attention under lockdown. For the quarter, Mattel's revenues rose by 10% while net income more than tripled against the year-ago figure, giving the beleagured toymaker a much-needed boost after several years of steady decline.
Adbrands Daily Update 23rd Sep 2019: "Let's Be Kids". Mattel's Fisher-Price pre-school toy range was one of the more unlikely advertisers in last night's Emmy Awards broadcast. Newly appointed Wieden & Kennedy unveiled a lavish 60-second anthem spot in which John Goodman took a stroll through every viewer's childhood imagination, populated of course by all those Fisher-Price toys you ever loved back then, and can enjoy again now with your own pre-schooler. Actually, though, we prefer the agency's great series of accompanying spots which re-imagine our favourite childhood toys for our adult selves. The John Goodman spot is fine but these are funnier and less cloying.
Adbrands Daily Update 23rd Aug 2019: US toymakers Mattel and Hasbro took steps into new areas of business with separate announcements today. Both companies are attempting to move away from the stagnating traditional toy market. Hasbro inked the purchase of Canadian content studio Entertainment One for $3.3bn. The most obvious attraction is eOne's stable of child-friendly character assets, of which the best known by far is Peppa Pig. However, eOne is also a highly regarded developer and distributor of TV and movie content, managing production partnerships with several independent producers. Most of its projects are aimed at grown-up audiences. Recent successes include last year's Oscar-winning 'Green Book' movie and TV series including 'The Rookie', 'Designated Survivor' and 'Ray Donovan'. The deal suggests a further aggressive push by Hasbro into character-based entertainment. Meanwhile, Mattel made its first move into adult gaming with the launch of mobile racing app Hot Wheels Infinite Loop. The game is free to download, and allows players to reach against each other using fantasy cars from the Hot Wheels racing cars range. It is the company's first self-published game.
Adbrands Daily Update 19th Jun 2019: Mattel has acquired global licensing rights outside Asia to the Sanrio character collection. Hello Kitty is just the best-known of a large portfolio of cute animal characters that are popular with adults as well as children. The first toys and products will become available in Autumn 2020. No terms were disclosed.
Adbrands Daily Update 11th Feb 2019: Mattel's revenues continued to slide during 2018 despite a welcome rebound for long-suffering flagship brand Barbie, whose sales have increased for five consecutive quarters. Full year sales for Barbie of almost $1.1bn represented their highest-level since 2013. Sales of Hot Wheels cars were also at best-ever levels at $834m. However, most other lead brands suffered declines, and the liquidation of retailer Toys R Us left a significant dent on all toy manufacturers during the year. Reported net revenues fell 8% to $4.51bn. Net loss halved from the previous year to $531m, and operating profit was also still in the red as a result of severance and restructuring expenses. Hasbro was down even more sharply, though it retained a narrow lead over its longtime rival. Revenues slumped 12% to $4.58bn, and the company remains profitable with net income of $228m.
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