Barbie is the most diverse doll you can buy, says Mattel boss
Before Kreiz joined in 2018, Mattel went through three general managers in four years. Now, three years after taking the reins and bringing the company back to profitability, he is focused on a new challenge: transforming the toy maker into a toy business.
For Kreiz, this is an important distinction.
“We now think and operate much more like an intellectual property company,” he says. Mattel’s brands – like Hot Wheels, Fisher-Price, and He-Man – shouldn’t be just toys, but franchises.
“Here we are with this incredible offering across different genres and legacy brands that everyone knows, that haven’t been part of film and TV or online games or theme parks. We have an opportunity for Mattel to do just that.
It is not surprising that he dives into this field. After all, Kreiz’s background is in entertainment – he co-created Fox Kids Europe in the 1990s before later directing Endemol, the creator of the Big Brother and Deal or No Deal reality shows.
These are roles that led the American-Israelis to take root in London. While now living in Los Angeles, California, his four children with dual Olympic navigator Anat Kreiz were all born in the British capital and the family still owns a home in the city.
“Yes, television is part of my experience,” Kreiz says, “but in a lot of ways it’s a movement that’s almost obvious”.
“We’re not the first to try to bring a franchise to the big screen or to television.”
In fact, many would say Mattel was too slow to seize the opportunity. Disney and Lego have well-established theme parks and huge movie franchises. Even the rival of toy maker Hasbro has the Transformers and My Little Pony movies.
“Look, we can learn a lot from Disney,” Kreiz says. “A good analogy is what they did with Marvel, which was a catalog of comic book properties that they could reimagine.
“Nobody necessarily knew about some of these properties when they bought this business. I imagine no one has watched Guardians of the Galaxy or Black Panther, and knew from the start that this could be what it has become.
In his view, Mattel’s line of brands, led by one of the best-selling toys of all time – Barbie – has the potential to be even more popular. Thirteen films are in development. Among the first, a Barbie movie directed by Greta Gerwig, starring Margot Robbie and Ryan Gosling.
The following will not only be attached to more well-known brands such as Hot Wheels, but also “based on brands that we have not marketed for decades”.
“It’s hard to find such a collection of quality heritage brands that enjoy global recognition and brand awareness. And people have a very emotional connection to toys, ”says the 52-year-old.
“Children touch and hug toys and they lie down with toys. And, for parents, well, we all remember our favorite toys.