Mattel CEO says the brand will no longer be confined to toys: ‘We are here to build film franchises’

The summer’s Barbiemania is still yet to die down, with Halloween looking likely to be a thoroughly pink affair.

Greta Gerwig’s blockbuster hit Barbie raked in more than $1.4 billion at the global box office, breaking records and cementing its position as the highest-grossing film of 2023—and Barbie doll maker Mattel is eyeing more toy-based movies after Barbie’s success bolstered its bottom line.

In an interview with CNBC on Wednesday—after the company published a quarterly earnings report that beat Wall Street’s expectations— Mattel CEO Ynon Kreiz spoke about how the El Segundo, Calif.-based firm was planning to cash in on more of its intellectual property.

“We are here to build film franchises,” he said. “We don’t say that every movie will be as successful as Barbie, but we intend to apply the same methodology, the same approach, the same capabilities.”

Alongside Barbie, Mattel’s vast portfolio of brands includes Hot Wheels, American Girl, Uno, and Fisher-Price toddler toys. A movie based on the company’s Polly Pocket franchise, starring Lily Collins and directed by Lena Dunham, is already in the works.  

Kreiz said in Wednesday’s interview that Barbie had demonstrated what Mattel had to offer when it came to wider entertainment, noting that the firm was aiming to extend its brands’ cultural significance and market products beyond toy stores.

“This is about how do you take successful brands and execute an IP strategy across multiple verticals, highly accredited business verticals that in some cases are bigger than the toy industry, all driven by big franchises,” he explained.

Mattel said Wednesday that Barbie doll sales had surged 16% in the third quarter on the heels of the movie’s success. Its revenue for the quarter rose 9% from a year earlier to $1.92 billion.

However, the firm is under no illusion that toy sales are guaranteed to stay at those levels, with its movie strategy a sign that Mattel feels a need to diversify to stay ahead.

Although the company increased its full-year profit guidance on Wednesday, it warned that demand for toys was slowing ahead of the holiday season thanks to economic volatility that could see consumer spending take a hit.  

Mattel isn’t the only company to have cashed in on Barbie’s success.

Burger King Brazil launched a Barbie burger complete with pink sauce ahead of the movie’s release, while Airbnb, Roku and dating app Bumble all jumped on the Barbie hype bandwagon with their own marketing campaigns over the summer.

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