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Mattel blames "clueless" mothers on why they haven't grown on the last few years


It appears toy giant Mattel has pinpointed the reason sales of its Hot Wheels brand haven't grown over the past few years, and it's not what one might expect.

The culprit, executives claim: clueless mothers.

We may be great at jazzing up dollhouses, whipping up goods in the Easy-Bake Oven and dressing up Barbie. And hey, we can probably even figure out how to turn a pile of building blocks into a fortress.

But the thing is, we just don't "get" how to play cars with our boys. At least according to Mattel vice president Matt Petersen, who runs the company's North American boys' toys and games division.

"She doesn't get why cars, engines, and all the shapes and crashing and smashing are so cool," Petersen told Bloomberg Businessweek, noting this is likely because mom has never played with them.


The company's most famous toy car brands — Hot Wheels, Matchbox and Tyco R/C — rake in over $1 billion a year. Though that number is nothing to be scoffed at, car sales fell 1 percent in the fourth quarter. U.S. sales of Hot Wheels, Mattel's biggest business targeting boys, haven't gone up in three years.

Ironically, moms happen to be Hot Wheels' biggest buyers, according to Bloomberg Businessweek.

But the company has a plan. Last month, Mattel launched a campaign to help moms take the wheel, get on the ground and zoom around with their sons. Operating under the idea that mothers won't buy products they don't understand, the company hosted a brunch for bloggers in New York City with the goal of teaching women why their sons love cars.

"The real purpose of the meeting was to listen to these moms," Mattel spokesperson Rachel Cooper toldToday Moms.

Company representatives also provided tips on how to effectively join in the play, suggesting moms use the cars to build math and organizational skills. Mattel is also sprucing up its website with tips and guides for mothers.

"Having this conversation could be what takes the brand to the next level," Petersen told Businessweek.

But could this bold declaration from the world's largest toymaker actually prompt mothers to slam on the brakes when it comes to purchasing the product? Mattel has received plenty of backlash since its new marketing strategy went public.

Read more by clicking here


What are your thoughts? I think the CEO is a sexist @$$hole.  Blamming women for their faults. Their product has turned to crap. the once metal cars that could hold up very well and now cheap plastic crap that breaks when stepped on. My DS has never been interested in cars and if it was I wouldn't but mattel. He loves action figures and roll play.


Asked by LostSoul88 at 11:47 AM on Mar. 20, 2013 in Politics & Current Events

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Answers (18)
  • Oh, he got me. I'm just a clueless ass woman that has no idea how to play cars. Nevermind I have bought my DS dozens upon dozens of matchbox / hotwheels cars and yet he still prefers to play with legos. It must be something I did wrong. I never should have bought that rug that looks like streets and a village for him to play cars on.

    Maybe if cars were a little more interactive they would be more fun to play with. DS's favorite car has doors, a hood and a trunk that all open. Why buy a cheap car when you can get all the stuff to make your own creation at the lego store? They have wheels, tires, steering wheels, dash boards and wheel chasis' to make your own vehicle. Sounds more fun than a hot wheels.

    Answer by QuinnMae at 11:52 AM on Mar. 20, 2013

  • "She doesn't get why cars, engines, and all the shapes and crashing and smashing are so cool," Petersen told Bloomberg Businessweek, noting this is likely because mom has never played with them.

    Perhaps 'crashing and smashing' cars would be more cool if the quality of their product didn't make that kind of play cost prohibitive.  Just a thought.


    Answer by QuinnMae at 11:59 AM on Mar. 20, 2013

  • That's a crock of s**t! My brother had hundreds of Matchbox cars when he was a kid, and we all spent hours playing with them. They were sturdy metal vehicles--he still has them, and they're in beautiful shape. My daughter has had a couple of Hot Wheels cars, but they're hunks of cheap plastic. It's not the mothers who are clueless ...

    Answer by Ballad at 12:10 PM on Mar. 20, 2013

  • Wow! What a bunch of bullshit! I wanted boys. The second time around, after one boy, I was terrified of having a girl. I don't know how to play with girls because I think girl toys are boring. I don't like dolls and traditional "girl" stuff. I find it easy to sit down and play cars with a boy, and I know I'm not the only one. Maybe they need to be coming up with cool new ideas instead of just cars. I am a big fan of robotic insects, for example. Instead of blaming moms for what they are buying, maybe they should look at things that are selling.

    Answer by JulieJacobKyle at 12:27 PM on Mar. 20, 2013

  • Oh bullshit. I grew up with brothers and I was a tomboy. I played with cars and trucks when I was little. Having a vagina didn't prevent that.

    I rarely buy Hot Wheels now because they're junky. Better quality toys will get my money.

    Answer by Ginger0104 at 11:51 AM on Mar. 20, 2013

  • What a joke! I had more matchboxes then my brother did. My boys just prefer to play outside in the tree house, hay mound, etc then with any of the cheaply made toys we've bought from the store.

    Answer by baconbits at 12:10 PM on Mar. 20, 2013

  • lol

    eeerrr duuuhhhh, what's a car?!

    Answer by staciandababy at 12:20 PM on Mar. 20, 2013

  • They are using reverse psychology on Women (Mothers). By saying we don't know how to play with our Son's we may then say to ourselves "Hey, they know what they are talking about since it IS a multimillion dollar Company & is run by Brilliant Executives who know everything there is to know!" Yes, they do think we are all asses because you know what "the masses are asses". Sales will increase now because they are publishing their finds in every publication they can! The truth is the economy is SHIT! My Son LOVES Matchbox & Hotwheel cars & the quality is still VERY GOOD! We have well over 600 of these cars BTW (my Son counted them). Besides a Crap economy that Mom's don't have the extra $ to treat the child with a toy, tastes have simply changed. Our kids see us with our iphones & ipads & want what we have. So Parents are opting to buy electronics for kids at younger ages than ever & they get eductional games as a plus Cont:

    Answer by ILovemyPaulie at 12:22 PM on Mar. 20, 2013

  • Cont: see, the big Execs know all this. That's why they are recommending us Mom's to play with Cars in an Educational way! So even though my Son still loves his cars, he now at 6 loves Angry Birds (plays on Dad's phone) & plays educational games on the Computer. So when we go toy shopping he opts to buy an Angry Birds toy or a game for his Nintendo instead of a pack of Cars as he once did. He's 6 & nearly Over with his Match Box cars :( There is also much less free play for kids these days. Parents are busy running here & there so the child will grab a Nintendo to play in the Car. Then we enroll our kids in too many after school activities. Kindergarten they even have homework each night. So, when do kids get to play as kids used too like they once did not too long ago. It's kind of sad. You hardly see kids ride bikes like we used to either :(


    Answer by ILovemyPaulie at 12:22 PM on Mar. 20, 2013

  • Wow that guy is an idiot and why does the mother has to be the one to play with the cars?? Are the moms the only ones that has that responsibility?


    Answer by Alisim at 2:09 PM on Mar. 20, 2013