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Mattel Credits Barbie's Comeback To New Content Marketing

Barbie’s back, and the old gal is bustin’ a few moves, powering Mattel to better-than-expected earnings. And the company’s executives say it’s due in part to its extensive “I Can Be A ____” marketing campaign.

Worldwide, net sales fell 3% in the second quarter, or about 1% in constant currency, with an operating loss of $11.7 million, a better performance than most observers expected. But Barbie, a franchise that has been struggling to find relevance among today’s girls, saw sales climb 23%. The El Segundo, California-based company says other girls brands fell 60%, however, including a 19% drop in the American Girl line. And worldwide, sales of both girls and boys brands declined 5%.

Barbie’s gains, up 11% year-to-date, are “the result of a return to the fundamentals that make this brand continuously relevant, including a clear and motivating positioning that is inspiring to girls worldwide,” says president and COO Richard Dickson, in a conference call discussing the results, as reported by Seeking Alpha. “Consumer confidence in the brand is increasing. This is evidenced by continued enthusiasm for the new fashionista line, the I Can Be Content Marketing, the success of our new younger girls segment Dreamtopia, stronger brand equity scores, and a sharp uptick in pop culture references to Barbie.”

Mattel unveiled Barbie’s new positioning, with the umbrella theme of “You Can Be Anything,” last fall, which includes plenty of unscripted video content aimed at Gen Y parents. Much of it encourages girls to want to be leaders. (Last week, it introduced a President and Vice President two-pack, its first all-female ticket. Priced at $24.99, it’s available in six skin tones.)

Earlier this week, Hasbro also reported upbeat news, with its second-quarter sales reaching $878.9 million, a 10% gain (and a 12% rise in constant currency terms.)

The Pawtucket, R.I.-based company says it saw growth in all categories, including double-digit increases in Nerf and Play-Doh, and a 15% jump in partner brand revenues, driven by Star Wars, Disney Princess and Disney’s Frozen.

Hasbro says key initiatives for the second half of the year include Furby Connect, Speak Out, and support for the coming Lucasfilm's Rogue One: A Star Wars Story and DreamWorks' Trolls.

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