Mattel Gets Multicultural Right, at Last

Rick Wartzman
Rick Wartzman

In his latest online column for Time magazine, Drucker Institute Executive Director Rick Wartzman writes about a new advertising campaign by toy maker Mattel, targeted to Latina moms.

The campaign is called “Toy Feliz,” or “Toy Happy” in English. “It is a clever twist,” Wartzman writes, “on ‘Estoy feliz’—Spanish for ‘I’m happy.’”

“On one level,” Wartzman notes, “the move by Mattel is a simple recognition of demographic reality. The number of U.S. Hispanics, which now stands at about 53 million, swelled by 47.5% between 2000 and 2011, a Pew Research study found, accounting for more than half of the nation’s total increase in population over that period.”

But there is more to it than that. In the past, Wartzman points out, Mattel “tried to win over Latino customers by using straight-ahead translations of English-language advertising.” But with “Toy Feliz,” he adds, “Mattel is showing a newfound appreciation for giving Latinos something that every group values greatly: recognition and respect.”

In this way, Peter Drucker would have surely admired Mattel’s messaging. “What consumerism demands of business is that it . . . start out with the needs, the realities, the values of the customer,” Drucker wrote in his 1973 book Management: Tasks, Responsibilities, Practices.

With its new approach, Wartzman concludes, Mattel “is attempting to make a subtle—but potentially powerful—shift by communicating to Latino families, ‘These are your products’ instead of ‘These are our products.’”

Meanwhile, you can also check out Wartzman’s latest piece for the HBR Blog: “Six Drucker Questions That Simplify a Complex Age.”