Typing Hot Wheels into the YouTube search bar will bring up more than 8.5 million results, and while the top one is often Mattel’s official channel, directly below it are videos from brands like Xbox and Nexus, as well as Wow Kidz and 5MadMovieMakers. But together with multi-channel network Fullscreen, Mattel hopes to have a bigger hand—and reach—when it comes to delivering viral content on the Google-owned platform.
Fullscreen and Mattel have been working together since 2013, with the former managing the toymaker’s YouTube channels. Now, the companies are coming together to create Fullscreen Family, which will feature a massive family-focused collection of brand-safe channels for third-party advertisers on YouTube and other digital platforms. The pair will also see the fruits of their labor come to life in a new Hot Wheels Digital Content Innovation Team, which will tap Fullscreen’s top creators to make content for the boy-skewing brand’s online fans.
Through the partnership, Mattel is increasing the amount of premium kids and family content by 61%, and reach an estimated 800 million monthly video viewers. Additionally, Mattel intends to develop deeper relationships with top online influencers in the kids and family space.
The efforts are in line with Mattel’s 2017 plans to bolster its influencer marketing initiatives and digital reach, and are being made in order to engage young viewers even more authentically.
“Digital marketing is the primary way that you’re going to convert viewers, and it’s the primary way to unite your consumer with your brand,” says Damon Berger, VP of global strategic partnerships at Fullscreen. From viral hits to unboxing videos, Fullscreen says it’s going to help Mattel make it all. But the company will also collaborate with influencers on original concepts and utilize popular social formats like mashups and listicles.
“We’re looking at all categories right now. We want to expand the brand footprint and we want to be able to cover all types of categories and tell Hot Wheels stories in many different ways, so we’re not really dedicated to a specific category,” says Isaac Quiroga, director of digital entertainment at Mattel.
The focus for the campaign across social channels hinges on experimentation, creativity and competition, with those three elements woven throughout Facebook, Instagram and YouTube Hot Wheels content. “Consumers want value-added advertising that makes it so that they’re continuing to be entertained and not interrupted in their daily activities, and that’s what influencers do at their core,” says Berger.
At the end of last year, Mattel revealed that it was utilzing a budget of US$1 million across its YouTube channels, which was mostly operational. (In 2016, Mattel gained two million new subscribers across its channels, while surpassing 67 million views for its 300-plus toy reviews and unboxing videos.) The new Fullscreen partnership sees Mattel making good on its promise to double down on influencer campaigns as well as increase digital content spend overall.
“I absolutely recommend a social-first strategy, which means approaching our audience in a two-way interaction. That’s how we grow engagement now,” says Quiroga. “We want them to talk with us and inform what the brand does next so they begin to inform the stories that we tell.”
While Mattel emphasizes that TV advertising is still a part of its budget and strategy, it will be shifting ad dollars away from linear. At the beginning of the month Business Insider reported that the toymaker was making its first upfront ad spending commitment to YouTube Kids. Without getting specific about dollar amounts, Mattel says its digital ad spending has jumped by 40% over this past year.
“We’re shifting the investment for sure because we do want to test these different digital forums and see what they can deliver for us,” says Quiroga. “So we will continue to increase our investment in digital until we find that saturation point.”
This acceleration in ad spend also means that the company will start to shell out more bucks to the influencers with whom they are working, while directing more money to its owned YouTube channels to make high-quality content. (The company declined to say how much it would be spending on both.) Mattel will also be making money off of the content it puts on its channels, just like any other creator, from ad revenue. The dollars will then be funneled back into creating more digital content.
Right now, influencers for the Hot Wheels Digital Content Innovation Team haven’t been officially chosen, but Quiroga hints that they will be ones with whom Mattel has worked in the past like Derek Muller from Veritasium. There will also be kids and family creators in the Fullscreen network. The company is also looking for macro and micro influencers, ones who focus on video games along with vloggers and unboxing enthusiasts.
“We want to continue investing in credibility and trust, and we find that influencers are the best way to do that because we are able to reach a very specific and engaged audience, then it’s not just the brand talking directly to consumers, it’s actually talking through the lens of an influencer,” says Quiroga.
In the meantime, Mattel is expecting to grow its Hot Wheels YouTube channel, currently sitting at around 600,000 subscribers, by four times each month. Hot Wheels was chosen to kick off the program because of its popularity on YouTube, as well as the team’s penchant for experimentation. The brand also had a successful year in 2016 on the platform, with YouTube being the greatest driver of incremental Hot Wheels growth. Throughout this growth, Mattel was working on content with Tongal, and that partnership will remain intact.