For Hot Wheels, Mattel Switches To 'Cars Are Good For You' Message

We should have been expecting this. Mattel, which earlier this year shook up its Barbie marketing playbook by aiming ads at dads, says it is launching a new Hot Wheels campaign targeting moms. And while the mom in question gets to do some impressive stunt driving, the new campaign, called “Challenge Accepted,” focuses on valuable life lessons, not the “Wow! Cool” vibe Hot Wheels has typically used.

“The new campaign showcases how the challenges Hot Wheels provides kids help them to build the skills and confidence they need to take on the world,” the El Segunda, Calif.-based toy company says in its release announcing the new effort. "We aim to nurture the ‘Challenger Spirit’ in all kids by encouraging them to try, fail, and repeat to achieve success.”



While this mom isn’t quite smarmy enough to say “Make good choices!,”  it is a little telling to see a kid to eat oatmeal for breakfast, not Pop-Tarts. And it’s a far cry from the daredevil approach the brand has taken in the past. Trying to “activate boys of all ages,” it once catapulted a life-sized Hot Wheels car the length of an entire football field, for example. 

The 60-second ad, from BBDO San Francisco, is scheduled to run in primetime, during NBC's American Ninja Warrior, which it hopes will reach parents and kids as they’re watching together. The campaign also includes cinema, social and digital.

Hot Wheels is the world’s seventh-largest global toy property, based on dollar sales through the first half of the year, reported the NPD Group. And Hot Wheels Basic Cars, the die-cast models that fill little boys’ bedrooms, are the world’s best-selling toy.

But while Mattel says the core toys are selling well, as are the track sets and play sets, the company told investors in July that it is rethinking its marketing strategy. Instead of treating each division separately, it’s launching “in-depth consumer journey assessments to deepen our engagement programs with our consumers across channels and to enhance our ability to sell through broader systems of play.” And it’s hoping that approach can help it overcome problems in its more troubled properties, including American Girl, Monster High and Mega Blocks.

Executives also said it expects its lineup for the second half of the year, including “an RC racer that expands the brand's technology range and the super Ultimate Garage.” That too, it says, will delivers great play for kids but also appeal to moms by providing a storage solution. 

1 comment about "For Hot Wheels, Mattel Switches To 'Cars Are Good For You' Message".
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  1. Michael Margolies from Michael Margolies Photography & Design, September 13, 2017 at 5:49 p.m.

    I like the message and the play time, without being too pretentious. Sometimes playtime is really just about imagination and exploration. Mom and Dad do not need to be part of every moment of a kid's life.

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