Fisher Price is turning to nostalgia to help reverse declining sales. The Mattel-owned brand is running its first televised brand campaign with a 60-second spot during the Primetime Emmy Awards airing Sunday on Fox. The campaign, the brand’s first as part of a new relationship with Wieden & Kennedy Portland, strives to engage parents and their children by reminding them of how much fun they had in their youth playing with classic Fisher Price toys.
John Goodman stars in the “Let’s Be Kids” anthem spot running Sunday. In the video, the actor, dressed as the classic farmer from Fisher Price’s Little People collection, walks through the farm landscape amid memorable toys like the Chatter Phone and a stuffed puppy.
“You lived here once,” Goodman says in the spot. “It was the happiest you’d ever been.” He goes on to talk about how such happiness was replaced by “that tall place, where opinions are loud and clocks are the boss and you have to wear shoes—all the time!” But then he encourages consumers to return, with their own kids, to such a world of imagination “because everything’s exactly how you left it.”
Jason Bagley, executive creative director at Wieden, says looking through the Fisher Price archives helped his team find the direction for the new work.
“Fisher Price is such a classic brand, and the toys really transported us back to when we were kids,” he says. “We are trying to capture this world of being a kid again and encourage parents to be kids themselves.”
But children today are not facing the same world their millennial parents navigated decades ago. The rise in digital products, the proliferation of social media and the pressure on early academics have all strained classic toy brands like Fisher Price. As it faces such competition, the Mattel brand, which was founded more than 89 years ago, has seen sales decline. In the second quarter of this year, gross sales of Fisher Price and Thomas & Friends fell to $222.4 million, down 6 percent compared with the year-earlier period. Mattel’s American Girl brand also declined, though Barbie and Hot Wheels both increased sales for the quarter.