Reinventing Hot Wheels


Jul 5 2021 • 25 mins

In 2016, a research video played in a conference room of Mattel Inc. caused deep concern. It showed an eight-year-old playing with iconic Hot Wheels™ toy cars. "Imagine doing this for an hour," the boy said, as if it was torture. The moment confirmed what many Mattel employees already knew: kids were shifting from physical toys to digital games at increasingly younger ages. And it meant that Hot Wheels, the best-selling toy on the planet, was losing its primary audience to digital gadgets and putting the company's future in jeopardy. The moment galvanized a small group of forward-thinking employees and a risky decision was made: everyone's favorite toy car would ride the digital wave – instead of being totalled by it. The team navigated strong resistance – after all, how do you fix a toy that isn't broken? – to introduce Hot Wheels™ i-d. It's a never-before-seen product that blends the physical toy with a digital platform. And guess what? It crashes and burns. But rather than sinking the venerable company, it benefits Mattel, Inc.

To find out how, host Gabriela Cowperthwaite talks with both the innovators who challenged the status quo and the decision-makers who had trouble stomaching the risks. Hear from Chris Down, chief design officer at Mattel, Inc., and Ron Friedman, former director of global marketing. Also hear from senior leaders Steve Totzke, Mattel's executive vice president, and Ricardo Briceno, vice president of franchise marketing.

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