Mattel to Expand Online Focus in 2009 with Development of Mattel Digital Network

by Jay Cochran
January 08, 2009
Mattel announced today at the 2009 Consumer Electronics Show (CES) Kids@Play Summit that it will be transforming the company’s online strategy from brand Web site platform to interactive programming and content provider. The aggressive initiative is called the Mattel Digital Network, a new online destination for kids and families that is being driven by the company’s experience and observations about how kids play today. The Network is a gateway to a world of open-ended online play – it will be user-focused and will become the portal to Mattel’s powerhouse brands, such as Barbie®, Hot Wheels®, Matchbox® and Radica®.

“Today’s kids don’t recognize technology, they recognize magic that engaging play experiences deliver,” said Chuck Scothon, General Manager and Senior Vice President Mattel Digital Network. “Mattel is known for providing magical play experiences through traditional toys, and now with the launch of the Mattel Digital Network, we extend our great play experiences into the digital space for kids of all ages.”

The network is being created with a simple, defining touchstone - that it will be “the place where the kid in all of us comes to play.” Even its name, the Mattel Digital Network, was thoroughly dissected. More specifically, it is truly an all-brand initiative (Mattel), ensures a continued focus specifically on the space (Digital), and requires an ongoing commitment to keeping both the content and each target audience - from kids to tweens and teens to adults and collectors – in mind when building their online experience (Network).

“To put it simply, we will be moving our users into the driver’s seat to let them decide how to interact with our brands, to consume the content they want and even to be a participant in content creation,” Scothon continued. “Through it all, we also recognize that the digital space requires us to iterate and optimize forever – we will never be done nor satisfied. So, when the Mattel Digital Network launches, we will almost immediately start changing the experience and then learn every day how to keep improving it.”

Phase one for the Mattel Digital Network will:

Discern the age of a child and provide a different experience depending on gender, interests, and level of active participation.
Be a kid-safe environment with content that is screened, approved and appropriate for children at each age.
Provide tools to harness the creativity of brand fans to make it not just a place to consume content, but also to provide content.
Deliver on being a site “for the kid in all of us” – from ensuring our channels will support the personality of each to providing a shopping solution for gift givers.

Deep History Online

An intellectual property powerhouse, Mattel has consistently ranked at the top of digital destinations for several years, behind only traditional broadcast and media players. The company’s online success has been based in an understanding that, for kids, the heart of their online experience is rooted in play, which is what Mattel delivers like no other. From better understanding kids and moms, and their desire for a strong and positive play experience, the company has built a world class online experience that provides a solid and strong foundation upon which to build. This understanding has been at the foundation of every brand website since Mattel’s earliest entry into the digital space with the launch of™ in 1996, up through today’s fastest growing virtual world ever,™, and beyond. It was also the foundation for a proprietary interactive research tool called the Mattel Playground, which has opened a daily dialogue with hundreds of real moms.

Mattel Products at CES:

Mattel is continually looking for new ways to merge traditional and online play, and is unveiling a variety of innovative products at its booth (Kids@Play Summit – Sands Expo and Convention Center #72600) including:

- Mindflex™ - Have you ever dreamed of moving an object with the power of your mind? Mindflex™, the new mental acuity game from Mattel, makes that dream a reality! A lightweight headset containing sensors for the forehead and earlobes measures your brainwave activity. When you focus your concentration, a small foam ball will rise on a gentle stream of air. Relax your thoughts and the ball will descend. By using a combination of physical and mental coordination, you must then guide the ball through a customizable obstacle course – the various obstacles can be repositioned into many different configurations. Mindflex™ combines advanced technology with the power of thought to create an interactive experience unlike any other – a game where players compete in the ultimate mental marathon!

- Barbie® Digital Nail Printer – As the first product unveiled under the Barbie® brand’s new “Beautronics” line – where beauty meets electronics – the Barbie® Digital Nail Printer connects to your computer and allows you to print custom designs directly onto your nails; it takes only a few seconds and the designs last for days! You can select from 1000s of intricate designs, and even upload your own photos to create a custom manicure perfect for any occasion. The Digital Nail Printer uses thermal inkjet technology and specially-formulated cosmetic grade ink to print directly on the nail surface in full color. A built-in color video camera lets you model nail designs before printing.

- UCreate Games - Ucreate Games puts mash-up creativity and game creation into the hands of kids. Using your computer screen and the Ucreate Games tablet, kids can build and customize unique games using hand drawn lines and a library of fun, interactive game elements, including: drawing templates, photos, sound effects, and recognizable game components. Ucreate Games uses a unique, photographic interface that automatically recognizes game activities and captures the user’s creations. This customizable gaming experience provides an endless variety of challenging game play that the user controls. Ucreate Games includes: drawing table, folding camera, USB connection, software, dry erase drawing supplies, and game template booklet.

- UCreate Music - Ucreate Music is an easy-to-use digital music making system that allows kids to become the ultimate DJ. Kids and tweens can express themselves through creating their own songs and re-mixes with a fun and innovative interface. They can record samples, mix and match loops and create their own music tracks using an assortment of rifts, instruments, runs and backbeats. Plus, kids can share their creations with friends and update and explore new content on the Ucreate Music website. For added entertainment, kids can add in their own voice and sound effects or distortions to their track.

- Xtractaurs™ - Extract, Combine and Fight Online!™ Xtractaurs™ provides kids with the tools to build the ultimate dinosaur online. The Xtractaurs™ experience begins with the Starter Kit, which comes complete with a T. rex action figure, software and Extraction Gun. Connect the Extraction Gun to your Mac or PC and then insert into the dinosaur figure to “extract DNA.” Once extracted, the DNA will unlock an action-packed online gaming experience. As boys collect new dinosaur figures, they will continue to extract dinosaur DNA, unlocking new games and special attacks. Boys can then mix and match online various dinosaur DNA traits, characteristics and fighting abilities to create the ultimate Xtractaurs™ figure. A player can boost the power of his figure in five arcade-style games, collect new DNA in dino action games, and ultimately take on the mighty Megavores™ in battle! But every Megavore™ requires new strategies. Build the wrong Xtractaurs™, and it’s back to the drawing board!

- U.B. Funkeys™ Game Factory Tool - U.B. Funkeys™ is a popular PC-based interactive game where vinyl toy collecting meets casual gaming. The U.B. Funkeys™ virtual world continues to expand as players collect figures and interact through in-game activities and challenges. The Game Factory tool enhances the user experience by allowing kids to unlock new gaming functionality within the U.B. Funkeys™ world. With each 2 Game Factory figures, kids can create their own U.B. Funkeys™ online game and post it to where friends can play and rank their game. *Name subject to change.

- FAMPS™ (Feelings, Attitudes, Moods and Personalities) - Connecting, expressing and sharing are the basic elements of social networking and are core to the way girls stay connected! FAMPS™ takes this form of communication and brings it together with collectible figures that connect and communicate with your Mac or PC via USB and RFID. FAMPS™ figures - Feelings, Attitudes, Moods and Personalities - allow girls to reflect their various emotions through their virtual space. Each figure creates a unique emotional makeover so girls can express themselves in all kinds of fun new ways via their desktop, e-mail, widgets and IM. Girls can also create custom wallpapers, e-cards and more based on their feeling, attitude, mood or personality at that time. Additionally, girls can expand their FAMPS™ world by collecting the individual FAMPS™ characters that can be carried with them as key chains, displayed on their desks or traded with girlfriends.


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