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, directed by Ringan Ledwidge via Rattling Stick. “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.
The new marketing, which includes several product-focused spots, directed by Andreas Nilsson out of Biscuit Filmworks. They will air during evening events like the Emmy’s and Sunday Night Football in order to attract parents nostalgic for their youth, says Chuck Scothon, senior VP-general manager of Fisher-Price. He says the push is a “multi-million dollar investment" that will run for years.
“We needed to stay relevant, stay modern, and get people to feel the brand—not just be aware of the brand,” he says. In addition to the TV spots, the campaign will include retail activations, a social media push. Fisher-Price’s most recent tagline before “Let’s Be Kids” was “Best Possible Start,” which was running for around four years, Scothon says.
Wieden began working with Fisher-Price in January. BBDO had most recently handled work for the brand, a relationship that ended in 2017, according to a Mattel spokeswoman, who confirmed that BBDO still works on Barbie. However, she says the toy giant is moving toward more project-based agency relationships with its roster of brands. The relationship with Wieden is expected to be “long-term,” Scothon says.
The Portland-headquartered agency has been on a tear of late, most recently winning lead U.S. creative agency duties for McDonald's and an Emmy award for its "Dream Crazy" Nike commercial.
See the product spots from the campaign below.