Mattel’s “Play it Forward” Initiative Shows the Value of Brand Adaptability

Mattel has announced the launch of a new company platform called “Play it Forward,” which focuses on “leveraging Mattel brands to give back to communities in times of need.” The first products to roll out under this new initiative belong to a Fisher-Price line called #ThankYouHeroes, a collection of action figures representing people who work essential jobs. The full line includes sixteen dolls, including doctors, nurses, EMTs, and delivery drivers. An additional smaller Fisher-Price line is launching under the Little People brand, called Community Champions.

All of the proceeds from both of these new lines are being donated to #FirstRespondersFirst, an organization that supports healthcare workers who are on the front lines of the pandemic and their families. According to Arianna Huffington, one of the leaders of #FirstRespondersFirst, “It will be wonderful to see this new Fisher-Price collection not only bring joy to children, but give parents and caregivers a new way to honor healthcare first responders and everyday heroes and their families.”

In the company press release for these new product launches, Mattel has indicated that other lines will be released under other brands beyond Fisher-Price in the coming weeks, all in conjunction with Mattel’s commitment to community engagement.

A single new toy line can take an extraordinary amount of work and planning, and releases are often coordinated months in advance. The fact that Mattel has been able to push this to market so quickly is an impressive feat, and it makes a strong case for brand leaders to streamline their brands to be as adaptable as possible.

There are events that toy companies traditionally plan new releases around, such as holidays and movie premieres. An event such as the pandemic would be nearly impossible to plan for, and a company would have to be very flexible in order to pull it off. By embracing a culture of adaptability and making this a core value in the company’s working processes, Mattel has been able to rapidly respond to changing consumer needs.

Brands across all CPG industries can benefit from an ability to keep up with quickly changing trends in consumer behavior. In this instance, Mattel was able to fill a new need for toys that help children better understand and relate to this new world that they’re living in. For the food and beverage industry, for example, the most flexible food brands might be developing innovative meal solutions for people who have to learn how to cook for the first time, and leaders in the office supply industry may be working towards products that help employees and students transition to working from home.

It is impossible to predict all of the ways that consumer needs can suddenly change. However, companies that prioritize flexibility will be best positioned to respond to these changes quickly and effectively – something that is especially important for category leaders.

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