UM wins Mattel media across Europe and Asia

Carat was incumbent in number of key markets for maker of Barbie.

Barbie: Mattel brand
Barbie: Mattel brand

Interpublic’s UM has won Mattel’s media planning and buying account across Europe, the Middle East and Africa as well as Asia-Pacific.

Mattel, the toy-maker that is behind children’s brands including Barbie, Hot Wheels, Fisher-Price and Thomas & Friends, appointed UM to manage media in Latin America in January 2018.

The size of the account is undisclosed, but Mattel’s annual report showed that it spent $526m (about £420m) on advertising globally last year and its international business outside the US represented about 45% of sales.

Dentsu Aegis Network’s Carat was the incumbent on Mattel’s media in a number of key markets including the UK, which generated about 4% of sales.

Chris Skinner, president of UM in EMEA, said: "We’ve all grown up with Mattel’s amazing brands and I’m sure everyone on the pitch team has had a ‘Mattel moment’. 

"Our focus on creativity and ideation, together with a firm grip on data and audiences, gave us fantastic chemistry with Mattel from the outset and the team has been passionate about working on the business ever since."

Daryl Lee, global chief executive of UM, said the agency wants to build on its existing relationship with Mattel in Latin America by "bringing the same level of better innovation and performance" to EMEA and Asia-Pacific.

Mattel cut its advertising and promotion expenses to 11.7% of net sales last year, from 13.2% in 2017, as a result of a company-wide programme of what it called "structural simplification savings".

However, Mattel expects to increase its adspend as the toy-maker seeks to move back into growth.

Mattel told investors on its recent first-quarter earnings call that it has been "really evaluating the effectiveness of our advertising" over recent quarters "so that we could target our money more effectively". This has meant primarily moving more money into digital channels.

Online content such as "animated series, influencer programmes and product-related videos" are what "the new consumers" are watching when they are "trying to make their decision on what to buy", the company said, explaining how it is "moving" its media spend "to where the consumer is going".

Mattel’s $526m in advertising costs included media planning and buying, non-media costs such as website production and promotional costs, newspaper inserts and fliers, and trade show costs.