With J.J. Abrams reportedly working on a Hot Wheels movie, Mattel is repositioning the toy-car brand—not unlike what it did with Barbie—in a new aspirational, purposed-driven campaign called “Challenge Accepted” from agency BBH USA.
The idea is that kids learn resilience by playing with the toy cars—learning through failure as they experiment with different track builds, vehicles, etc. A new 60-second commercial, launching the campaign, takes a cinematic approach in communicating this, with Serbian filmmaker Jovan Branislav Todorovic (repped by Smuggler) immersing the viewer in the world of a boy playing with his Hot Wheels.
A voiceover talks about failure, and how it’s character building. And by the end of the spot, the boy has transcended toy cars completely and is ready to face grander challenges in life.
“Failure can take us places, leaving us wondering, will we ever pull this off?” the voiceover says. “But if we’re willing to try again and again, failure can take us to come even wilder places, challenging us to push beyond what we thought was ever possible, to learn from every attempt so that we can loop the unloopable, leap the unleapable and stick the landing. Taking on the challenge got us here. Imagine how much further we can go.”
The campaign is targeted at parents and is designed to help them think of Hot Wheels as a vehicle for igniting the challenger spirit that lives inside every kid to help them reach their true potential. It “reframes Hot Wheels as more than just fun, but also a catalyst for kids to develop the grit they need to take on challenges both on and off the track,” a rep for Mattel told Ad Age.
Todorovic’s prior work includes Diesel’s “Hate Couture” spot. Assisting him on the Hot Wheels film was cinematographer Dariusz Wolski, an Oscar nominee as DP on 2020’s “News of the World.”
Not much is known about the forthcoming film adaptation of the toy brand, but Abrams has described the script currently in development—after some false starts—as “emotional and grounded and gritty.”