Barbie and Hot Wheels on Social Video: An Interview with Mattel

By Bree Brouwer · March 31, 2019

Barbie and Hot Wheels on Social Video: An Interview with Mattel

Mattel is one of the best-known toy brands in the entire world, boasting popular properties such as Hot Wheels and Barbie (who’s turning 60 this year). The toy manufacturer is also an online video superstar, landing at #5 across the most-watched brands in the world in 2018. Mattel routinely uses social video not only to better understand its audience of young children and their parents but also drive in-store retail sales.

Before our joint webinar, we hosted an interview with Mattel where Isaac Quiroga, Director of Video Engagement at the company, chatted about how the brand has managed to stay top-of-mind in the heavily-competitive digital video world of toys, games, and family entertainment.

Read on to see what Issac had to say about these achievements!

Tubular: What are some key decisions you make that are tied to your digital video success?

Isaac Quiroga: A lot of it comes down to audience consumption, format preferences, and testing. We looked at what types of formats were resonating with a particular audience segment and would create videos in many of these formats and then test them.

You really don’t know how your audience will react unless you test and iterate; if we see a successful series, we continue to support it, but if not, we scratch that idea and look for the next one.

T: How does data and video intelligence help drive your strategy?

IQ: For a while, we focused on views, as they were the main indicator of audience interest and purchase intent. It didn’t matter if it was paid or organic views, either — all of it seemed to be working.

Later, our insights team found that engagements were more compelling to a specific property’s audience – in the sense that it’s a better indicator of how they interact with content. We adjusted our approach at that point, and figured out which viewership to engagement ratios we had to achieve to reach our goals.

Basically, we’ve gotten smarter on how the data and metrics drive our sales and continued to follow those models.

T: Have you seen an impact on sales you can attribute to your digital video efforts?

IQ: Absolutely, both in the short-term and long-term. We see, for instance, how content featuring a product or girls playing with our products drives short-term sales, while animated series and content is a major contributor to long-term sales because it builds up brand affinity over the course of the stories and character development.

UGC is another element that is a key driver of sales. While you may have you built the brand, you end up inspiring UGC, and this format is the ultimate contributor to our POS. It really is a sign that there are fans out there who want to create content or who want to purchase the product and then show themselves creating content.

All this is a long-term game, though. Our model is six months to a year when we actually understand whether we’ve correlated to any sales. We continue to grow engagement knowing we have a particular metric we want to achieve, so we do have to take a risk and see if it pays off. And then when it does, it’s fantastic.

T: Where do you find inspiration? Are there players in the space (in or out of your category) you think are doing an excellent job?

IQ: Surprisingly, we find inspiration from creators and influencers we’re not partnered with. Many of them are making slates of content featuring Mattel brands, and who are, in essence, taking watch time away from our share of voice.

When we look at those creators and what they’re doing, we can’t help but get inspired! Then we work to imitate what some of those creators are trying to do because we’re in constant competition with ourselves and other toy channels and brands.

T: What are the unique challenges for video in 2019, specifically in your industry?

IQ: Safety is our number one priority, which means we sometimes have to take a step back and ensure our programming is providing as much value as possible for a kid or their parents’ lives overall. We can’t do a lot of the best practices for growing an audience; for instance, we can’t use calls-to-action, or say “comment, like, and subscribe.” In our industry, these cross the line of advertising directly to children.

So there’s a lot more to think about, but ultimately this creates a better experience and a better quality video from our standpoint. We get to tell such daring stories because we are IP-driven companies. We start with character and story, and then ultimately create products to extend that storyline. We create a cast of characters that we ultimately get to put in our content and unlock kids’ imaginations.

T: What are your ambitions and major projects for the next several years? Which are you most excited about?

IQ: We’ll ultimately take into account the various types of technology that families are now interacting with, such as voice assistance or interactive mobile devices. More and more they will continue to control what is in front of them. Therefore, how they interact with the content and how they search for it are ultimately going to dictate the stories we will tell.

We also want to help kids and families find content, and right now, that’s about being suggested to them. The relationship between the device, the content, and the consumer is such a personal thing, so we need to make sure that we’re on top of what the algorithm is favoring so that we could be suggested and recommended to consumers.

Finally, we’re also looking at creating longer content, as it’s being recommended more often to kids (upwards of 20 minutes to an hour). That’s going to inform our video strategy; the two- to three-minute short form isn’t going to keep working, because kids are all watching longer-form content now.

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