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Highlights | Interviews

A MAGIC YEAR FOR MATTEL

12 Apr - 2024

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Licensing Magazine has interviewed Claudia Lucarella, Head of Publishing Mattel EMEA, and she has shared her thoughts on heritage in storytelling, as well as what makes Mattel so unique.

Claudia Lucarella

What is Mattel’s approach to storytelling within its brand portfolio?

Mattel’s approach to storytelling is rooted in its rich heritage and commitment to brand evolution. With a diverse portfolio spanning toys, content, and publishing, we craft narratives that resonate across generations. We know that our fans want to go beyond the toy, by leveraging mediums like film, television, and print, we create immersive worlds for our iconic brands, ensuring that storytelling remains at the forefront of our brand portfolio strategy and that it resonates with audiences of all ages.

Can you elaborate on how Mattel’s properties have evolved into full franchise systems?

Certainly. Each of our properties have evolved into full franchise systems through strategic development and cross-platform expansion. Brands like Barbie, Fireman Sam, and Thomas & Friends, each with distinct origins, are now part of comprehensive franchise ecosystems. This evolution involves amplifying content across various mediums, including publishing, to engage fans and extend brand narratives beyond their initial forms. The ultimate aim is to create enduring franchise universes that cater to diverse fanbases.

How do you ensure stories remain relevant while staying true to the brand’s heritage?

It’s all about striking a delicate balance between innovation and tradition. Whether exploring new themes or revisiting classic narratives, we like to infuse our storytelling with elements that resonate with today’s audiences while staying true to the essence of each brand. This approach, exemplified by the success of properties like Thomas & Friends, fosters meaningful connections with fans while evolving brand narratives to reflect contemporary values and societal trends.

For instance, with Thomas & Friends, we’ve successfully explored themes of global citizenship with the likes of the UN and their SDG goals, while maintaining the essence of the beloved characters. This approach extends across all our intellectual properties.

It’s also important that we put our storytelling in up-to-date formats such as audiobooks and sticker albums, something we have had a lot of success with.

Could you tell us about Mattel’s partnerships in the publishing sector?

Mattel’s partnerships are diverse and strategic, spanning longstanding collaborations with industry stalwarts like Egmont, Panini, and Hachette, to innovative ventures with newer publishers like Tonies and Yoto. These partnerships enable Mattel to engage fans through bespoke content, exclusive products, and innovative storytelling formats, ensuring that its brands remain at the forefront of publishing trends while reaching new audiences worldwide. 

What is the significance of Mattel’s new publishing imprint?

Our new Mattel publishing imprint marks a significant step in our strategy. It will focus on developing a centre of excellence for our extensive portfolio of franchises, creating new stories based on iconic brands like Barbie, Hot Wheels, and Fisher-Price, among others.

Set to launch in the United States and Canada in 2024, this initiative underscores Mattel’s commitment to expanding its publishing presence and supporting brand initiatives, ensuring a robust pipeline of content for future generations.

The complete article is available in the new issue of Licensing Magazine, pag 12 – 13.


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