How content has helped Mattel to standout in crowded market, explains CEO Ynon Kreiz

Ynon Kreiz, Chairman and CEO of Mattel, discussed Mattel's commitment to both growing its core toy business and expanding its entertainment offerings while accepting the recognition at Cannes Lions 2024

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Ynon Kreiz

Ynon Kreiz

Cannes: At Cannes 2024, Mattel’s CEO Ynon Kreiz was honoured as the ‘Entertainment Person Of The Year.’

Kreiz, the Chairman and CEO of Mattel, discussed Mattel's commitment to both growing its core toy business and expanding its entertainment offerings while accepting the recognition at Cannes Lions 2024. 

Talking about his role in transforming Mattel from a toy company into an entertainment powerhouse, he said, “At its core, Mattel is a creative company fueled by innovation and guided by our purpose.” 

Drivers of progress

Elaborating on the crucial drivers of progress for Mattel, in 2024, he emphasised the importance of both innovation and a strong brand message for success in today's competitive landscape. 

Kreiz joined Mattel in 2018 when the company was facing financial challenges and lacked a clear creative direction. He saw the potential for Mattel to evolve beyond just manufacturing toys, becoming a major player in the Intellectual Property (IP) space. 

Emotional connect with brands

“We are driven by the knowledge that the people who buy our products are more than consumers, they are fans with an emotional connection to our brands,” Kreiz stated, highlighting the importance of building deeper relationships with their customer base. 

“We have a tremendous portfolio of brands, and we see an opportunity to leverage these brands across different platforms,” Kreiz said, underlining the importance of their vast IP library.

He stressed the importance of adapting and innovating in today's rapidly evolving media and entertainment landscape.

Standing out amidst a crowd

With an abundance of content vying for consumer attention, Mattel stands out thanks to its established and beloved brands. 

“We can stand out in a very crowded market,” Kreiz declared confidently, attributing this strength to the creation of unique and engaging content. He went on to discuss some of Mattel's most iconic brands, including Barbie, Hot Wheels, American Girl, Fisher-Price, and Masters of the Universe. 

By infusing brand purpose and cultural relevance into everything they do, Mattel ensures their products resonate with modern consumers. 

Role of creativity

While Kreiz doesn't consider himself a creative, he recognised the critical role creative minds play at Mattel. 

“I don't see myself as a creative person,” he admitted. "But what I try to do is amplify creativity and inspire innovation in our teams.” He went on to compliment the success of the recent Barbie movie in exemplifying his approach to risk mitigation through collaboration. “We were able to get the rights for the movie back,” Kreiz revealed, highlighting the importance of securing the film's creative direction. 

“We focus on the purpose of the brand, and then we look for creators who can capture the essence of the brand and bring it to life in a new way,” Kreiz said, elaborating on his strategy for brand storytelling through entertainment. He emphasised his philosophy of partnering with the best talent and trusting their creative process. 

Barbie: the cultural event

“The goal was to create a cultural event,” Kreiz said, outlining his vision for the Barbie movie. He explained the strategic partnership with Warner Brothers and director Greta Gerwig, believing in her ability to deliver a groundbreaking film. 

The unconventional nature of the Barbie movie, defying categorisation and featuring a diverse soundtrack, confirmed the team's belief in taking risks with a unique and original project.

Looking forward with Mattel

Looking ahead, Kreiz envisions a future where Mattel thrives in both the toy and entertainment sectors. The company currently has 16 movies in development.

Partnerships with figures like “J.J. Abrams, Skydance, and Vin Diesel are also in the pipeline.

Mattel's growth, as Kreiz discussed, extends beyond the screen as they venture into theme parks, with the first location opening in Arizona later this year and another planned for Kansas City in 2026. They are also expanding their digital gaming presence. 

Cannes 2024 Ynon Kreiz Mattel Barbie creative content brand entertainment