Tag Archives: children

Mattel Reboots Older Brands

Consider classic Mattel toys such as Barbie, Hot Wheels, Matchbox, Jurassic World, Star Wars, American Girl, Masters of the Universe, Monster High, Thomas & Friends, and many more. What are your  favorites?

And of course, since it was founded in 1945, Mattel also had many toys over the years that are no longer in play.

Barbie (one of Mattel’s oldest brands) must have been lonely and looking for her old friends as Mattel has now reintroducing several older toy lines that have not been on the shelves in decades! Welcome back to Major Matt Mason, Big Jim, and Pulsar. (All lines that students, and most likely their parents, are unfamiliar with.)

The revitalized toys will be launched under the banner of “Back in Action” as a way to revive old brands and capitalize on Mattel’s intellectual property. Mattel is also using Comic-Con as an important marketing tool for launching the toys lines. To help sell toys into the collectible market, the action figures will be in smaller sizes.

The reintroduction of old brands is not unusual in toys. Consider how Mattel capitalized on its older Masters of the Universe toys. These were introduced in the 1980s and eventually grew to a $2 billion franchise. As it lost sales, Mattel shelved the intellectual property, but revived it years later as a collectible. Then last year an animated series from Netflix for adults and children reemerged, accompanied by the Masters of the Universe toy line (He-man!).

Welcome back to the old brands!

Group Activities and Discussion Questions:

  1. Discuss the stages in the product life cycle. What are the marketing objectives in each stage?
  2. Divide students into teams. Have each team draw a PLC and place toys into each stage of the PLC.
  3. How do toys move through the PLC?
  4. Why bring back the older toy lines?
  5. View a timeline of Mattel’s evolution: https://corporate.mattel.com/history
  6. Also show Mattel’s brand portfolio: https://corporate.mattel.com/brand-portfolio
  7. Student teams: Develop a marketing campaign for one of the three toy lines. What elements are needed?

Sources:  Schmidt, G. (19 July 2022). Mattel opens its vault to revitalize dormant brands. New York Times.

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Wing Drones Can Now Deliver Girl Scout Cookies

When you get a cookie craving do you go to the store? Poor you. If you lived in a Christiansburg, Virginia, a community that tests commercial delivery drones, you could get Girl Scout cookies delivered directly to your front lawn!

Christiansburg has been testing Wing drones since 2019. Wing is the drone subsidiary of Alphabet (Google’s parent company). The main delivered products are rather mundane, such as pastries, tacos, and coffee. But now – Wing will be delivering those tasty Thin Mints (my personal favorite) and more. Wing worked with the local Girl Scout troops who said they have had a harder time selling cookies during the pandemic. And, let’s face it, delivering cookies is an excellent way to garner public support for commercial drone services.

Wing’s drones can carry items up to 3.3 pounds that fit into a special aerodynamic package. The drones don’t actually land in your yard; drones hover over a designated delivery area and lower the package to the ground using a string. Customers then retrieve the package from the delivery area. The drones fly lower than 400 feet and cannot be near airports. Items range from foods, flowers, medicine, and more. In addition to the U.S. location, Wing is also delivering via drone in select locations in Australia and Finland.

Now, how many boxes of cookies do you want?

Group Activities and Discussion Questions:

  1. Poll students: Have them think of all the products that could be delivered by drones.
  2. In order to be successful, companies must be able to physically get a product into the hands of the customers. Discuss how a distribution channel works.
  3. For Girl Scout cookies, what distribution channels are used now?
  4. How can the channel be expanded? What approach could be used?
  5. Show videos of Girl Scout cookie delivery: https://youtu.be/DFfsepDkTkA
  6. What can a drone deliver? https://youtu.be/HVDZgTJ8JLA
  7. View Wing’s Website for additional information and videos: https://wing.com/
  8. How does drone delivery change the experience? Positive or negative?
  9. Finally, what types of companies will benefit from the use of drone deliveries?

Source: Associated Press; USA Today; other news sources

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A Modern Potato Head Family

When is the last time you played with Mr. Potato Head toys? Well, it is still around but Hasbro is officially renaming the toy line “Potato Head” without the Mr. and Mrs. labels. The intent of the rebranding is to allow kids to show the many different faces of family, gender, and inclusion – and of course all in its beloved potato format!

Hasbro is not actually getting rid of Mr. Potato Head, who along with Mrs. Potato Head will retain their honorary family titles. However, the company will repackage the toys into a “Create Your Potato Head Family” set with two large and one small potato bodies, along with 42 different accessories in new colors and more inclusive messaging. The change is viewed as part of a larger movement towards greater diversity and inclusion for children and families.

Hasbro is far from alone in revising its toy lines. In 2019, Mattel launched customizable, gender-neutral dolls called “Creatable World” to allow kids to create their own characters. Mattel also has new more diverse Barbie dolls as well, reflecting the changes in society and women’s roles. And, American Girl dolls now has an American Boy to round out its collection.

Let’s play!

 Group Activities and Discussion Questions:

  1. Divide students into groups. Have each group 10 of their all-time favorite toys.
  2. Build the list of toys on the board and challenge students to examine the list.
  3. Are these toys gender-neutral, or are they directed at boys or girls only?
  4. Show the Potato Head site and video: https://corporate.hasbro.com/en-us/articles/create_your_potato_head_family_launching_this_fall
  5. Discuss with students how toys can reflect society and cultures.
  6. Show American Girl dolls: https://www.americangirl.com/shop/c/boy-dolls
  7. Show Barbie dolls: https://barbie.mattel.com/shop/en-us/ba/barbie-dolls
  8. What other toys could use this approach?

Sources: AdWeek; New York Times; other news sources

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