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Q] The iconic Barbie doll turns 60 this year. Tell us a bit about the evolution of Barbie, and how you plan to continue to reinvent the toy for the Indian market.
Barbie’s journey over the last 60 years has been very exciting for us at Mattel. It’s one of the world’s most loved toys. Mattel has always strived to make Barbie a reflection of culture, while staying true to her empowerment spirit. Today, Barbie is the most diverse doll line in the marketplace offering a variety of body types, skin tones, hair styles and eye colours. Over the past four years, the Barbie brand has been undergoing a transformation to maintain relevance with today’s parents and children and better reflect the world girls see today. In 2016, we proudly introduced the most diverse and inclusive doll line in the world with different body types, skin tones, hair colours, eye colours, etc.

Q] Tell us about the insight behind You Can Be Anything. What kind of consumer response did you see from the campaign?
The campaign was based on a core insight of the kids, our biggest consumers really. The campaign basically builds on the storytelling element, which is integral to Barbie. When kids play with the doll, there is a great deal of creativity that emerges. Their imagination allows them to dream about what they can be and the kind of success they can achieve. We wanted to fuel that imagination, and so we built on our global campaign and took it a step further by trying to understand who today’s children are inspired by and who their role models are. So we ran a Digital campaign inviting entries from moms on Facebook asking them who their little girls want to grow up to be. The responses were tremendous! We had responses from girls wanting to be chefs, comedians, journalists, pilots, sportspersons and much more. We then randomly picked out four girls and curated a day of fun and learning for them. We brought in mentors to interact with these kids and the results surpassed our own expectations. The campaign saw excellent traction on our Digital platforms.

Q] You’ve previously said that Digital plays a key part in your advertising. Are you then consciously moving away from Digital?
As a marketer I strongly believe TV is not going anywhere – it is here to stay. That said, it is true that our Digital spends have doubled in recent years. TV still has the greatest reach no doubt, but when you’re looking at a target audience, Digital allows you a more targeted reach. There is too much wastage on TV. On Digital, we try to build advocacy for the brand. We want our customers to be fans of the brand, because that way you know they will keep coming back to you and they will recommend you as well.

Q] What is the kind of ROI you’re seeing on Digital then?
While I cannot disclose numbers, our ROI on Digital is 50% more than what we get on TV especially when you consider the category we operate it. We are not an FMCG brand that needs to reach out to masses. Digital, as I mentioned previously, allows us a more focused reach.

Q] Considering children are your target audience, what are some of the challenges the brand faces in marketing to them?
The greatest challenge I think is in keeping kids engaged to the content. How do you create content that ensures children will come back to you? There are so many options today for kids as compared to what we had a few decades ago. There is so much content available for kids today.

Q] Given the variety of brands you have, your consumer group is fairly diverse. How do you connect with each target group then?
Yes, we have a fairly diverse consumer group if you look at the various Mattel brands. So for a brand like Fisher-Price, we target expectant and new moms, and these are conversations we drive through various media but largely through Digital. When it comes to brands like Barbie and Hot Wheels, we talk directly to the kids and their parents as well. As far as Hot Wheels is concerned, we see a great deal of interest in the brand from consumers of all age groups. That has a lot to do with the legacy of the brand and the kind of nostalgic connect that consumers share with Hot Wheels. We have seen several adult collectors of Hot Wheels, which is what drove us to participate in the Auto Expo in Delhi for the first time last year. So we made real life Hot Wheels cars, converted from a scale model for the first time in the country and unveiled them at the Expo. It was amazing to see auto fans and petrol heads actually flock to see what we had put up – we saw a bigger crowd in fact than another new model from a popular multinational auto brand. This response encouraged us, and our next step was Comicon. The response we saw from both kids and comic fans was overwhelming. We recognise that Hot Wheels is actually a big part of pop culture and we must leverage that and give fans the experiences they seek.

Q] Tell us a bit about your e-commerce strategy. Do you see a huge percentage of sales from e-commerce?
The growth in e-commerce has been really explosive. The sales contributions from e-commerce have in fact doubled. Over 20% of our sales today come from e-commerce; this was less than 8% a couple of years ago so our growth has been really huge. One of the revelations of e-commerce is from the Tier III and IV towns. Because e-commerce platforms in India offer a cash-on-delivery option, we have actually seen a spurt in the number of orders for products like Hot Wheels cars from several smaller towns and cities. Two or three years ago, a consumer in Ganganagar, Rajasthan or Dhanbad, Jharkhand would not have access to these products or would be forced to purchase cheap fakes. E-commerce has helped us reach these consumers and thrown up new information and data that has helped us serve those markets better.

Q] You have a He Man movie coming up. Tell us a bit about that. Any brand integrations that are lined up for the movie?
es, the He Man film is something we are very excited about. Six months ago, we in fact announced a new division called Mattel Films. We have announced new movies for He Man, Barbie and Hot Wheels, and we’re really excited about them too. It’s too early to talk about brand integrations yet but we will make announcements closer to the release of the films.

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