Mattel : advertising & marketing assignments

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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 have been under intense pressure for years as rival dolls - not least Bratz and their successors in the 2000s - and other toys muscle in to Barbie's territory. Mattel's portfolio also houses sister 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, Pixar movies, 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. Despite a modest recovery in Barbie's sales, life remains tough for Mattel, and the slump in performance since 2012 has 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 contributed to Mattel's woes. Mattel's revenues slipped to $4.5bn in 2018, the lowest figure for more than two decades. The company reported a net loss of $531m (down from over $1bn the year before). Barbie alone accounted for sales of $1.1bn and Hot Wheels for another $834m.

Capsule checked 19th June 2019

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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

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Historical profile information for Mattel

Recent stories from Adbrands Weekly Update:

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.

Adbrands Weekly Update 26th Apr 2018: Mattel announced the departure of CEO Margo Georgiadis after just a year in the job, ahead of what are expected to be dismal results for 1Q 2018, due later this week. The former Google executive is to join Ancestry.com as CEO next month. Her replacement at Mattel - the company's 5th CEO in six years - is another unusual choice. Ynon Kreiz's background is in content production. The former head of TV production company Endemol, he ran online video producer Maker Studios until its acquisition by Disney. He joined Mattel's board in an non-executive role last year, before becoming executive chairman in 2018 and now CEO.

Adbrands Weekly Update 8th Feb 2018: Hasbro has officially overtaken Mattel to become the world's biggest toymaker by annual sales, despite unexpected weakness in 4Q caused by a decline in the popularity of Star Wars tie-ins and disruption from the bankruptcy of Toys R Us. Revenues for the final quarter slipped 2%, but for the year, Hasbro delivered sales of $5.2bn, up 4%. By contrast, Mattel suffered another grim quarter, prompting an 11% slide in full year revenues to $4.88bn, the first time in nearly 15 years they have fallen below $5bn. The biggest problem for Mattel was a dramatic decline in performance in its smaller divisions. Sales of Barbie declined only 2% year-on-year but some other units performed far worse, with Fisher-Price down 11%, American Girl down 21% and Construction Toys by 29%. Girls Toys excluding Barbie plunged by a shocking 37%. The only positive note came from the Entertainment division housing Thomas The Tank Engine and other characters, where revenues rose 12% year-on-year. There was a similar disparity between the two companies on the bottom line. Tax reforms prompted a near-$300m charge for Hasbro in the final quarter, resulting in a 26% slide in net earnings to $397m. However EBITDA excluding exceptionals was up 12% year-on-year. Mattel also took took a big hit from tax reforms and Toys R Us, but even without those factors gross profit margin was slashed by almost 50%, resulting in a net loss of over $1.05bn. Even without exceptionals the company reported negative EBITDA, after a strong positive the year before.

Adbrands Weekly Update 14th Dec 2017: No signs of a happy landing for Mattel this quarter. With little more than a week to go for holiday shopping, the struggling toymaker warned that sales for the current quarter will be down by a mid to high-single digit percentage, while bottom line will be dented by a write down of inventory and heavy discounting to shift its remaining stock. Rating agencies have already estimated a 8% decline in sales for the year, and a slump of as much as 50% in earnings. Traditional rival Hasbro is generally doing very much better than Mattel, but it too lacks any breakout hits this holiday season; the biggest winners among traditional toymakers are independent companies. Top selling toys in the US this Christmas are LOL Surprise! dolls from Mattel's arch-enemy MGA Entertainment (the company behind Noughties hit dolls Bratz), as well as Hatchimals and Fingerling Monkeys, both from independent manufacturers.

Adbrands Weekly Update 7th Dec 2017: Ads of the Week "Family". Mattel wraps itself in some warm-hearted Christmas spirit with this seasonal reminder that there is no better time for a game of Scrabble than over the holiday season. Provided you don't live in North America. Mattel don't want you playing Scrabble there because they don't own the board game in the US and Canada; Hasbro does! In fact, you're probably not even allowed to watch the ad. MullenLowe's LOLA Madrid does the creative honours for everywhere else, travelling the global for a series of vignettes that illustrate the game's truly international appeal. 

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