At Mattel, digital now almost equivalent to traditional marketing spends: Lokesh Kataria

Mattel India's Head of Marketing on the biggest challenge for the toys industry - to keep getting the frequency consumption for kids’ content

e4m by Simran Sabherwal
Updated: Nov 21, 2018 8:23 AM
lokesh kataria

Mattel India recently released a digital campaign, 'You Can Be Anything,’ to identify role models who inspire young girls. Lokesh Kataria, Head of Marketing, Mattel India, believes this content creation in all probability will flow from India to the world, the challenges when marketing to kids and why Mattel creates content that talks about the philosophy of the brand rather than the product. Excerpts:

What was the insight behind your recent Digital campaign, 'You Can Be Anything’?

A couple of years ago, Barbie released a worldwide campaign “Imagine the Possibilities” which looked at how a girl looked at a Barbie. Young girls saw Barbie as a best friend, mentor and a role model.  The “Imagine the Possibilities” campaign inspired girls to do anything; she could choose any career she wanted and we thought we could fuel up a girl’s imagination with the toy, ie. The Barbie that she plays with. Last year, we released the campaign in India. With our latest campaign 'You Can Be Anything,’ we are taking it to the next level globally.  This campaign identifies and recognises role models who have made a mark in their careers and at the world stage, across fields such as arts, athletics, entertainment etc.  These role models are a big inspiration for young girls to fulfil their dreams. In India we thought why not go a step ahead and get the girls to meet the role model, who inspires them, for a day. So, in July, we floated a digital contest and asked mothers across the country about their daughters and what their aspirations were and what they want to become in the future. We got over a thousand entries and we identified the best, the ones that were inspirational; one of the girls wants to be a chef, the other a gymnast and the third an entertainer. We then identified the best in the industry in these fields and got them to spend a day with the girls so that the youngsters could understand the career and be even more motivated to pursue their dreams.

This is a unique campaign that we have conceived and brought to life only in India and the content creation in all probability will flow from India to the world. This is the first Barbie content localisation that we have done and we are very proud of the way it has come up. We have seen tremendous response from the viewers, it has been accepted and the role of the role model in the content piece has been appreciated. In just two days of the release of the campaign we saw one million views and our reach is around two million.  So, from a leads to conversion or views perspective, it is 50%, which is quite a good metric.


What is the core marketing strategy of Mattel?

At Mattel, we have three big brands - Barbie, Hot Wheels and Fisher-Price. So we actually tweak our media mix according to the communication and the end objective of the campaign. If you talk about Hot Wheels, it is still a little bit heavy on traditional media ie. television and less on digital. But if you talk about Fisher-Price where the core audience are parents, we are very heavy on Digital and low on television. The trend we are seeing that  is that Digital is contributing more and more by the year and is now almost equivalent to traditional marketing spends.

What is the challenge when marketing to kids?

The core challenge in marketing to kids is to keep them engaged to the content they watch so that they come back again and again. We have various content tie-ups and productions with movies like the Justice League, Toy Story and Disney Pixar Cars. The quality of the content has to be such that the kids get hooked on to it. One time reach is no longer relevant as you have so much of consumption going on that you need to make sure the kids keep coming back again and again. That remains the biggest challenge for the industry - to keep getting the frequency consumption for kids’ content.

So, brand integrations and tie-ups with movies and properties on television is a major component of your marketing?

It is actually. On television, MasterChef Junior is more targeted to mothers and co-viewing of kids with them. We have been sponsors and partners with Star World for a while. If you look at Disney Pixar Cars 3 movie that released last year and Toy Story 4 that releases next year, we are the global toy partners with them.

Content plays a big part in the marketing strategy and today’s kids spend a lot of time playing games on the mobile or iPad. We did an interactive video with Gameloft - one of the biggest gaming platforms - wherein during the game the player can accrue extra points and also has to be engaged with the content in terms of gameplay. This is just not pure native advertising, it is engaging advertising where the kid has to interfere and play along and the advertisement comes at the end. If you are able to pass three or four obstacles, you win the race and accrue points to advance to the next level of the game. These are the novel mediums that you have to devise and continuously innovate so as to come to the awareness and top of the mind of the kids when they go shopping.

Have you created content on the Digital platform around your products?

The recent Barbie campaign is content production that has happened totally in India and that is how we want to create the content where it talks more about the philosophy of the brand rather than the product. Stickiness and brand messaging is more important and we want to focus on the brand and its relatibility with the shoppers whether they are kids or moms and the content objectives are set according to these needs. So while we don’t focus a lot on product content, we focus a lot on brand content.

In terms of revenue, how much does each brand contribute?

In terms of lead, Barbie and Hot Wheels are neck to neck in terms of both value and volume followed by Fisher-Price. Then comes the range of games that we offer through UNO, Scrabble, Pictionary, followed by Thomas & Friends and MEGA Brands. There are a lot of brands that come close to number three but the top three are Barbie, Hot Wheels and then Fisher-Price.


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