Mattel to consolidate $200 mil in TV buying

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With the kids upfront market set to break, toy giant Mattel is eyeing consolidation of its $200 million TV buying account.

The business is currently split among three agencies: TN Media, Ogilvy & Mather and Media Edge, all New York. They have all been invited into the review, along with undisclosed others, according to an executive familiar with the process.

Rick Dellacquila, Mattel's VP-advertising services, is conducting the review. He did not return phone calls.

Executives at TN Media and O&M also did not return phone calls; Media Edge does not comment on reviews.

TN Media handles broadcast kids buying, O&M buys kids cable and Media Edge buys adult programming. The review does not affect creative assignments.

News of the review comes as Mattel recently announced a reorganization and the resignation of two top executives, including its chief operating officer.


The company is under cost pressures, and a media consolidation could give Mattel added leverage and produce media savings the company may not be seeing now.

Indeed, one of the questions it has asked shops that pitch the media account to address is what advantages the company can gain by combining its kids and adult assignments at one agency. Presentations, slated to last about 6 hours each, are scheduled over the next three weeks.

"Mattel is looking for some new, out-of-the box ideas," said an executive with knowledge of the review, adding: "They want to know where things are going in the future, and they want to know about optimizers."

Optimizers are software programs that maximize reach at the lowest cost.

The review comes at the same time one of Mattel's key retailers, Toys ``R'' Us, is conducting both a creative and media review for its $50 million to $75 million account. It is said that some of the same shops that have Mattel's business are also pitching Toys ``R'' Us.


Mattel, including such powerhouse brands as Tyco and Fisher-Price, as well as its flagship Barbie products, makes up about 10% of the kids upfront market. Mattel spent $205 million on national TV last year, according to Competitive Media Reporting.

The company wants to move more aggressively on the Internet -- it has a Mattel Toy Club site in the works, and continues to produce new lines such as Pretty Surprise and Super Roadsters, the latter supplementing its popular Hot Wheels and Matchbox products.

Copyright March 1999, Crain Communications Inc.

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