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More comprehensive, realistic Barbie dolls help Mattel turn the corner

One of the biggest consumer hits of the epidemic, next to Netflix և Nintendo Switch, is the 61-year-old doll, which was once ridiculed as outdated և sexist.

Many parents և children wrote for a long time և criticized for promoting the unrealistic image of the body. Mattel’s Barbie recorded its best growth in the last two decades in 2020. Planning for years և A little luck turned baby toy cotton into work. material for millions of children.

The result. Barbie և Mattel has become a corner, Wall Street predicts years of growth for the toy manufacturer. The company’s shares have grown by more than 50% over the past year. Citigroup analyst Sean Collins cast an additional vote of confidence in the shares on Wednesday, raising his offer to buy from neutral.

Barbie still carries a lot of luggage, mostly to promote white, sexy beauty. But his reputation is changing. In October, a YouTube video of a digital Barbie’s friend discussing racial justice went viral, citing as an example of inclusion.

In an interview, CEO Yonon Kris lent some credit to Walt Disney Co., which ironically ousted Mattel a few years ago as a puppet license and gave the business to Hasbro.

“A well-known company is a great reference for Disney,” Crazy said. “And more specifically, what did they do with Marvel? This is the long-term vision. “

Like many companies, Disney and Mattel have updated their products to reflect the times, with an emphasis on racial equality and diversity. For Marvel, that meant new types of superheroes և stories. For Barbie. More dolls for people of color և More realistic body types. The coronavirus did not hurt either. Families looking for ways to distract their boring children turned to streaming, video games, and classic doll-like toys.

Just a few years ago, Barbie’s future was in doubt. Sales were declining as the company, which had long dominated the US doll market, outperformed its competitors. The kids did not see the toy as a inspiring role model, as Mattel President Richard Dixon knew.

“They thought he was stupid, he didn’t really represent what culture is,” Dixon said in an interview. “It simply did not look like the world we live in. And the results, to be honest, were quite shocking and overwhelming. “

The transformation, which the company plans to emphasize on Wednesday, was not accidental. In April 2018, Matt, who took the helm of the El Segundo toy in California, dedicated himself to becoming something new. The steady business of gradually improving the toy every year gave way to the idea that products should rise above the talk of pop culture. And the more economical Mattel can be in attracting positive attention, the better the sales will be.

A movie և TV veteran who debated with Fox Kids, Maker Studios և Endemol, Kreiz was accustomed to building several well-known brands. As CEO of Mattel, he was sitting on a gold mine that was not fully exploited.

“There is so much good content,” said Ins Eck Breyer, Editor-in-Chief of Toy Insider. “It makes sense to restore some of their really strong intellectual property. That’s a really big trend. “

A key part of that transformation took place behind the scenes. Crazy eliminated most of the company’s production capacity, created a film division, and influenced the influence of social media.

Since 2018, he has signed contracts with studios, including Warner Bros. և Universal Pictures, to make 11 different feature films based on the Mattel brand, even very old schoolchildren such as View-Master. shows. Mattel is also active in television, with more than 17 shows of special significance in production and more than 25 in development.

One feature of development. Barbie film with Warner Bros. scriptwriter, Oscar-nominated director Greta Gerwig, starring Margot Robin.

The COVID-19 epidemic has a complex production, it is not clear when any of Mattel’s feature films will actually start shooting. Crazy could not provide details, but said that no one will be released in 2021.

However, Dixon’s brand manager Lisa McKayt laid the groundwork for Barbie to succeed in Hollywood or without Hollywood. They have been pushing for the largest product range since 1980, when Mattel introduced the first SS Barbie.

Barbie’s most comprehensive dolls, run by her “Fashionista” brand, now have 22 skin tones, 94 hair colors, 13 eye colors and five body types. Little girls can buy dolls with prosthetic legs or strollers. Ken dolls have a wider range of body types: hairstyles, including male buns. Mattel opens dolls for different occasions. Maya Angelou, which came out just before the month of the history of the SA, was sold out in two days.

Overall, Mattel’s top performance models are inclusive, the company said. Number 1 came in 2020 in a wheelchair.

Barbie’s “look” has long been criticized as unhealthy for young girls. Studies have looked at whether this could lead to depression or eating disorders. According to an estimate, researchers say that in the proportions of the old Barbie, real women will have half a liver, only a few inches of bowel will not be able to lift their head.

Dixon is well aware that deepening in these areas can be risky. In 2003, when the company introduced the multinational “Flava” dolls to compete with MGA Entertainment և’s competitors’s famous Bratz. The line, which contained items such as a graphite-clad brick wall and a boom box, was attacked to promote harmful stereotypes. The dolls were stopped within a year.

Dixon says efforts to bring Barbie to a wider audience are now more thoughtful. Mattel has a “consumer savvy organization” run by child development doctorates, as well as advisory councils that try to eliminate wrongdoing before it happens.

“Barbie is always the best when it comes to culture,” Dixon said. “And 2020 has obviously provided quite a lot of opportunities for that.”

© 2021 Bloomberg LP:

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