The characters behind enduring toy brands Barbie, American Girl, Monster High and Hot Wheels are coming to YouTube following a second digital video-creation deal inked between Mattel and California-based Tongal, a talent-sourcing platform that links brands with writers, producers and studios around the world.
The latest collaboration follows on the success of a half-hour doc-style video celebrating the 70th anniversary of Thomas the Tank Engine (pictured). Thomas & Friends: 70 Years of Friends was created by Mindfruit Studios for Mattel via the Tongal platform. Since dropping on YouTube two months ago, the video has garnered nearly 575,000 views.
Andrea Carpenter, Mattel’s senior director of global home entertainment and new media, says Mattel was looking to parlay that success into using other popular brands.
While young fans are still watching (and buying) DVDs and linear television, YouTube is increasingly an important platform for Mattel, says Carpenter. “We want to be where our fans are engaging with our content,” she adds.
Carpenter says the partnership with Tongal allows Mattel to find and access a universe of some 80,000 storytellers, with that diversity helping to give a different voice for each brand – one that is specially crafted to fit the digital platform.
“We didn’t want to simply slice-and-dice existing content to create this YouTube experience. The YouTube experience needs to be its own thing,” says Carpenter.
Through Tongal, Mattel puts the ask out to the creators who submit their pitches on the story. Tongal helps to narrow down the field of entries, then Mattel staff members work with creators on the story content and creation.
The resulting programming featuring American Girl, Barbie, Hot Wheels and Monster High has started rolling out on YouTube, with more content coming over the next few months. Project collaborations for 2015 include:
- American Girl: In its collaboration with Tongal, American Girl enlisted the help of the crowd-sourcing platform to bring its inspiring BeForever characters, 1950s Maryellen and 1970s Julie, to life. Everything from the screenplay to casting to film production is being sourced through Tongal. The completed short films for both Maryellen and Julie are set to debut later this fall on American Girl’s YouTube channel.
- Monster High: Filmakers put together a short live-action film that centers on the theme of inspiring girls to be themselves and celebrates the release of Monster High’s new Boo York, Boo York DVD, set to launch September 29.
- Barbie: Four Tongal-sourced filmmakers crafted music videos for the new Barbie original song “Raise Our Voices.” The song was featured in the new animated Barbie Movie, Barbie in Rock n’ Royals, which is set to debut this September. The music videos are expected to launch on the Barbie YouTube channel in advance of the movie release.
- Hot Wheels: Creators crafted a series of YouTube-exclusive videos designed to capture fans’ excitement for the Hot Wheels brand. Since launching in June, these videos have attracted more than 2.7 million views collectively.
Carpenter says the content was crafted entirely to increase viewership on YouTube, and it is not tied to making toy sales.
“We do not want our fans to go to our channels and feel like we are selling them something. It is really about building affinity with the brand,” she says.
Tongal’s creative community, which has produced everything from TV commercials to feature films, has resulted in more than US$20 million in creator earnings and seven short films that premiered at the Sundance Film Festival.