NEW YORK: Mattel, the toy manufacturer, is seeking to be more "purposeful" in building its various brands – a strategy inspired in no small part by the reinvention of the Barbie doll

Juliana Chugg, Mattel's EVP/Chief Brand Officer, suggested the decision to release Barbie dolls with several different body sizes, skin tones and eye colours earlier this year was a "risk" – but symbolises a major shift at the organisation.

"We're on a journey, and it's progress not perfection," she said. (For more, including further details of the iconic doll brand's transformation, read Warc's report: Barbie's road to multicultural reinvention – and renewed relevance.)

"But I have to say the journey that we've started has resulted in such a positive movement around this [Barbie] brand, has created such a groundswell that it has given us confidence as a company to be purposeful in everything we do."

While Barbie had long been criticised for reinforcing negative cultural biases, the unveiling of a diverse, inclusive doll selection actually led Mattel to question the brand's fundamental characteristics.

"We changed Barbie's shape. We changed her look. And we went through a process of saying, 'If we make all these changes to Barbie, who is Barbie?'" said Chugg.

"But we wanted Barbie to be reflective of society, so that all girls around the world could relate to this character. It was a huge risk, but I have to say the risk paid massive dividends."

The favourable reaction, and increased sales, following this move has supported Mattel's refreshed vision, which is based around reviving a focus on creativity, imagination and the wonder of childhood, both internally and externally.

And purposeful thinking has been applied to items like View-Master, a stereoscope that traditionally relied on inserting a disc of still images, which was then rotated by pressing a button. It is now a virtual-reality offering compatible with Google Cardboard headsets.

Similarly, in previous incarnations the Thingmaker allowed children to pour plastic into molds. Now, it is a machine for 3D-printing toys.

Hot Wheels is also prompting greater imagination by encouraging users to set up race tracks in their own way, and create new additions for enhancing the experience – right down to tunnels made out of the cardboard middle of toilet rolls.

"Developing children, and developing and inspiring the future generations and the future leaders, is a serious business. And we take it very seriously at Mattel," said Chugg.

Data sourced from Warc