Mattel rolls out Juice Box MP3 player just for tweens

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Mattel has put away its red dot and stepped into the consumer electronics industry to reach older kids. The toymaker today launches a TV teaser campaign for a new tween music and video media player called Juice Box.

"The personal media players coming out now are for adults, and while there are some video-only players for younger kids, there's nothing that can do MP3s and digital photos aimed at tweens," said Philip Jackson, VP-games and puzzles marketing for Mattel.

While he declined to reveal projected sales targets, Mr. Jackson said Mattel believes the product will be a "complete sell-out" and predicted "way north of 100,000 devices" being sold this holiday season.

The familiar Mattel red-dot logo will not appear anywhere on the product. Most Mattel products-even those with a strong brand of their own such as Barbie or Hot Wheels-carry the mark. Mattel executives decided to leave the "button" off so as not to alienate the older children who recognize it as the mark for younger kids' toys.

Juice Box, which retails for $69.99 and comes with a $44.99 MP3 starter kit, will be for sale at mass-market retailers such as Target and Wal-Mart but also at electronics specialty retailers such as Circuit City and Best Buy, and music stores such as Sam Goody.

big budget

The teaser shows computer-generated cartoon characters, popular athletes, and young music stars being sucked up into the colorful square device. The spots will run for three weeks and end with the availability date: "Look for it Oct. 17."

A full ad campaign breaks on that date with additional TV spots as well as print, online, and promotional events through the end of the year. The budget is "several million" dollars, Mr. Jackson said. WPP Group's Y&R Advertising, Irvine, Calif. is creating the work.

The device has a three-inch video screen with a flip cover. Users can plug in proprietary media cards called Juiceware that can store up to 176 minutes of entertainment and include titles from cartoons, action sports, music videos and reality shows. Music acts like The Calling, Ashanti, Avril Lavigne and Ashlee Simpson are all providing content for Juiceware.

Ms. Simpson will also be the spokesperson for Juice Box and make appearances and do promotions around the launch of the device.

Mattel's chief toy competitor, Hasbro, has a personal media player called VideoNow. Launched last year with Video discs that can be played, it is aimed at kids ages 6 and up with a retail price of $49.99.

Whether young-person specific personal media players prove a hit may be reflected in the success or failure of the bigger adult personal media player market. Devices out this fall from companies including iRiver, Creative and Samsung take the portable music player one step further with the addition of video capabilities.

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