Content Marketing and all things Barbie – Cannes Lions csuitepodcast with Mattel

Interview starts at 11:56

In the second part of my final csuitepodcast from Cannes Lions, I spoke with Catherine Balsam Schwabar, Chief Content Officer at Mattel, on the topic of Branded Content, plus and all things Barbie!

with Mattel's Catherine Balsam Schwabar

with Mattel’s Catherine Balsam Schwabar

Catherine talked about how content is an expression of the brand in a different format and how brands are now looking at different ways to connect to consumers through the stories the brands have to tell.  She felt that Mattel were in a very fortunate position in that their brands are story driven and much of their narrative is around characters, which allows them to connect with both children and parents and a very content led environment, which works extremely well for them.

Catherine explained that Mattel has always led from a narrative driven standpoint and in fact were among the first companies to advertise to children on the Mickey Mouse Clubhouse with Disney. But they have been producing content for a long time, when you consider the likes Thomas the Tank Engine or the movies that have featured Barbie in the past.

In fact, Catherine said that the narrative around Barbie’s character continues to evolve.  Barbie now has two new TV series coming out:

‘Dreamtopia’, which is actually about Chelsea, her younger sister:

Launching later this year, ‘Barbie’s Dream House Adventures’, which will be about Barbie and her sisters and puppies and the adventures they have.

Mattel think of Barbie as a person – she is now YouTube vlogger with Twitter and Instagram accounts, and in fact is very active on social media, plus she is now a fashion icon.

Whilst there has been some controversy recently around body image, Catherine said that within the Fashionistas line, Barbie has a celebration of diversity with different ethnicities and body shapes, which has been taken forward with Ken too, with the launch of a new selection of diverse dolls. She added that Mattel tries to think about diversity in all its products and that no matter who you are, you should be able to find yourself in the characters that Mattel is giving you to help you imagine what you can be in the future.   She said that this can be seen in BBDO’s ‘Imagine the possibilities’ campaign where the diverse dolls are seen front and centre in not only how the brand expresses itself to the consumer but also how the girls are expressing themselves back to the brand via social media.

Content is very effective for Mattel.  Catherine said that they recently teamed up with Hudson Media and ABC in the US to make a show call ‘The Toy Box’ where inventors bring their new toys to the show to be judged by kids.  She said it was very successful and the winning toy [ArtsplashTM], launched in May, sold out in many markets, and then appeared on eBay for four times the original price! A second season of The Toy Box is now in production.

They have a similar measurement around content they produce on YouTube for Thomas the Tank Engine and Hot Wheels, where they see a correlation between the connection their consumers have with that content and rising sales.

Catherine said that as long as the company is connecting authentically, on the right platform, reaching the right audience at the right time, it works for the business.  However, their biggest challenge is in keeping up with the rapidly changing relationship that consumers have with their screens.  Therefore, when thinking about narrative marketing, Mattel need to write for all different screens simultaneously and on a global scale.

The Cannes Lions episodes of the csuitepodcast were sponsored by Capstone Hill Search.

Thanks to ICCO for allowing us to carry out the interviews in their House of PR.

All previous shows of the csuitepodcast series are available on the websiteSoundclouditunes and TuneIn.  There is also a growing community on Facebook and Twitter, where you can get involved in the discussion.  Finally, if you subscribe to the show, please can you give it a positive rating and review on itunes in particular as this helps it up the charts!

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