Interview - BTS x Mattel: you’re in the ARMY now

Janet Hsu, Mattel’s Chief Franchise Management Officer, shares new details about the upcoming doll collection based on K-pop phenomenon BTS, and why their fanbase known as the ARMY should be excited

Written by Rhys Thomas

Posted 06.06.2019 | Toys

Interview - BTS x Mattel: you’re in the ARMY now thumbnail

We are here to chat all things BTS and Mattel, Janet. Now, you have never struck us as being a huge BTS fan – are you now an official member of the ARMY?!

We are incredibly excited to be partnering with such an iconic group, and that, along with the fun and upbeat music, makes me a BTS fan.

Janet Hsu, Chief Franchise Management Officer, Mattel

How did BTS come to be on your radar?

BTS is everywhere! The question is where we haven’t seen BTS, which is in the toy aisle. We are excited to be filling that gap and bringing fans dolls, games and more with this license. As the leading global children’s entertainment company, we are positioned to deliver engaging and innovative products that will resonate with and excite the ARMY.

Internally, did everyone in Mattel ‘get’ why this is an important deal?

The power of BTS and the community they’ve built is undeniable. Once the team had a grasp on the power of their fandom, everyone was on board. We reacted quickly to a trend and see this as lucrative line for Mattel. We have an exciting opportunity to create BTS editions of existing IP and innovate with entirely new products.

So, tell me about the BTS line. What will it look like at launch?

Mattel’s comprehensive global licensing agreement is multi-category. This summer, we are kicking it off with seven dolls made into the band’s likeness and BTS UNO cards. We will be expanding much more down the line - stay tuned!

Who is the core buyer of the Mattel BTS line?

The beauty of BTS is that their fanbase spans all ages and cultures. We expect to reach a new demographic of fans with this line that we have not previously with traditional collector items. At a £ £22.99 RRP price point for the BTS dolls, we expect fans to collect a few or all seven.

And what about from BTS fans? The reaction on social media has been intense!

The BTS ARMY is passionate and extremely engaged, following every detail relating to the seven members across social platforms. From the start, we planned to slowly release images of the dolls to spark a global conversation before sharing the lineup. It was incredible to see photos of a dimple or hairstyle so highly regarded by fans and this really proves the power of the brand.

Is this a line that works in every market?

We see a place for this global line everywhere because BTS is everywhere. We are yet to find a market that does not have a fan base and know that the Army will only continue to grow as BTS tours the globe.

Is this a risky line? Retail is very risk averse at the moment, so what makes it a good buy in for retailers?

For Mattel, BTS is a great anticipated bet. What makes this a good buy-in for retailers is the undeniable fanbase. This line is the result of two powerhouse brands and industry leaders teaming up to create items that transcend borders.

How important to the growth of a brand like Mattel is anticipating these trends? Or is it a nice to have cherry on the cake, but classics like Barbie and Hot Wheels are the mainstay?

Understanding our consumer is essential to Mattel’s transformation. Being on top of emerging trends and having our finger on the pulse of what’s happening beyond Mattel is what will drive innovation and permanently restore Mattel’s status as a toy industry leader. Growing our franchise portfolio to bring IP to life in a new way is a major focus globally.

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