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Bringing a Toy Giant Online

Development of a New Brand Strategy

3rd most visited Children's website worldwide

SEPTEMBER 09, 2019. Longtime titan of the children’s toy industry, Mattel Inc. has come out on top meeting the challenges of an e-commerce driven market and the evolution of children’s play in the digital age.

As global toy commerce rapidly moves away from in-store sales and children become more likely to play with apps than physical products, today’s toymakers and distributors are at a crossroads.

“They must find innovative ways to go digital, or face folding under the weight of e-commerce giants like Amazon and Apple.”

Program Components

Market Research
Consumer Profiling
Vision Roadmap
Toolkits and Style Guide
Media Libraries (Email/Motion/Print/Digital Display/Sales)
Product Recommendations and Roadmap
User Stories
UX/UIMobile Native
Java Based AR
Systems Architecture: AWS
Web Frontend
API & Backend
Q/A Testing
Ongoing Product Strategy and Management

The Solution


Resolving to transform digitally, Mattel Inc. partnered with Signature to develop e-commerce platforms, competitive products with digital appeal, and renewed business and corporate strategies to strengthen their hold of the changing market.

Mattel.com was the premier project of the company’s redesign, with Signature developing website UX, strategy, and positioning. Once completed, Mattel was selling directly to consumers for the first time and no longer dependent on middleman distribution. In less than one year after launch, the e-commerce platform became the 3rd most-visited children’s website worldwide.

Barbie Girls


In another corner of Mattel’s online presence, BarbieGirls.com, the company had an active
online audience of millions–but no way to engage them. Signature developed a revitalized version of the website, turning it into a social platform that included a virtual world, games, videos, shopping and more.

Hot Wheels

The #1 selling toy in the world was given a digital update in the form of the Hot Wheels Customizer and the Hot Wheels Racing MMO.

The Hot Wheels Customizer was the first time Mattel had ever done personalized direct-to-consumer merchandising online. From concept to finish, Signature developed the program which allowed customers to personalize Hot Wheels cars and additional swag online for purchase. The Customizer was a hit–especially popular for birthday parties and events–and successfully ran for seven years.

With Hot Wheels Racing, Mattel entered the booming world of massively multiplayer online games. Signature developed the racing game with an entire digital currency and product ecosystem, allowing users to play and pay to unlock customizable cars and characters. After four years, the game was hugely popular online and kicked off a line of Hot Wheels MMOs in years to come.

Rock em' Sock em'

Another innovation born of the digital push was the Rock em’ Sock em’ mobile AR game, the first augmented reality game available from Mattel.

Signature developed the technology which turned any tabletop surface into a multiplayer
arena–with the classic Rock ‘Em Sock ‘Em blue and red robots appearing in 3D on the user’s mobile device.

Active Play Initiative

Weaving digital elements into active kids play

Seeking a way to impact their customers positively–beyond revamped entertainment and online convenience–Mattel tasked Signature with the Active Play Initiative, a mission to design physical toys with a digital element that motivates healthy physical activity. “The challenge was marrying digital to analog,” says John Gheur, Signature’s founder. “What we created was a sleek mobile toy for outdoor and online play that acted as a health and movement tracker. Kids interacted with the real world and activated toys–like a digitally connected soccer ball–to unlock mini-games, evolve an online avatar, win prizes, and other motivations. The more you played outside, the more points you got online.” Active Play reinforced Mattel’s status as a thought leader in the toy industry, and successfully demonstrated the possibility of weaving digital elements into active kids play.


3rd most visited


Mattel.com was the premier project of the company’s redesign.


Signature developed the technology

Rock ‘Em Sock ‘Em mobile AR game, the first augmented reality game available from Mattel.

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