Timing is everything with Barbie: Hint – NOW!
Steve’s breakdown: The new Barbie with different body types, skin shades and eye shapes has stopped the sliding sales. Enter Lisa McKnight to oversee the whole line of products. It’s not going to be easy because Mattel lost the license for Frozen dolls to Hasbro Inc. That’s a $400 million dollar whole that needs to be filled.
EL SEGUNDO, CA: Mattel Inc. has named Lisa McKnight, a veteran marketer at the toy maker, to oversee its Barbie business at a time when sales of the iconic doll have turned a corner after years of struggles.
Ms. McKnight is replacing Evelyn Mazzocco, a veteran Mattel designer who has run the global Barbie business since 2014. Last month, Ms. Mazzocco was part of an announcement that Mattel was adding new body shapes to Barbie.
The leadership change was announced internally last week. A Mattel spokesman said Ms. Mazzocco is still with Mattel but declined to discuss her role. Ms. Mazzocco decline to comment.
Barbie has gone through a dramatic remake over the past two years, producing the most diverse lineup that the doll has had in its more than 57-year history. Mattel added more skin tones, eye shapes and hair styles last year. In January, the company said it would start selling three new body types–petite, tall and curvy.
The changes are starting to have an effect. Mattel reported that Barbie sales rose slightly to $328 million in the fourth-quarter, breaking a streak of eight straight periods of declines. For the year, Barbie sales fell 10% to $906 million, hurt by a loss of shelf space and unfavorable foreign-exchange rates.
Barbie still faces challenges in the doll aisle. Mattel recently lost the coveted license for Walt Disney Co.’s princess and Frozen dolls to rival Hasbro Inc., leaving a more than $400 million sales hole to plug. Mattel plans to fill that with higher sales of its core brands, as well as growing sales of smaller licenses like DC Super Hero Girls, a line of action figures like Supergirl and Wonder Woman.
Ms. McKnight has recently been running the company’s Monster High doll business and previously led marketing for Mattel’s North America business. She has also performed marketing duties specifically for the Barbie business.
“Our continuing goal is to ensure we have the right talent at every level, at the right time, to support our brands and our business,” the Mattel spokesman said.
Ms. Mazzocco took over Barbie shortly after Richard Dickson, a former company executive, returned to Mattel to try to refresh the creative side of the toy maker.
Mr. Dickson, who is now president and chief operating officer, and CEO Chris Sinclair are undertaking a massive turnaround at Mattel, trying to stoke sales as well as improving a culture that has been bogged down by bureaucracy. The two have also remade Mattel’s executive ranks, with more than half of all leadership positions either replaced or reassigned over the last year.