Toy Stories Chapter 5: Hot Wheels Re-Branding

by Paul Fish | 19 Apr 2021

Industry Commentary

I am posting some anecdotal Toy Stories about a number of my favorite toys I've worked on in my career.

Toy Stories Chapter 5: Hot Wheels Re-Branding!

In the early- to mid-90’s, Hot Wheels was a perfectly respectable evergreen brand, but we all knew that its potential was far greater than its performance. So, we went into full overhaul mode. We started with a message focusing on four core values: Power, Speed, Performance and attitude. These values needed to be present in every product, packaging and marketing material. We revised the packaging for more consistency across the brand, bringing back the Wall of Blue, utilizing the same fonts, etc. We created several collectible series of 4 basic cars each, to give kids and adults earlier and multiple successes in completion. We also brought back the race car program to the big leagues with NASCAR and Kyle Petty.

We also created a new advertising campaign with our agency, FCB. They presented several options, and most of us hated their favorite choice: Hot Wheels, Leading The Way. I felt like that slogan could be applied to anything. “Retail Merchants of American, Leading the Way!” or “Metamucil, Leading The Way!” They were insistent, though, and fought for it to the bitter end. Ultimately, we tested the campaigns with kids, and FCB was right! Hey, that’s why we test! We introduced the new campaign at New York Toy Fair with a full song in an awesome sizzle film. I can still sing it all the way through, because it was played over and over for a week. FCB’s head of creative was the same guy who led Taco Bell’s “Run For The Border” campaign, so the man could sure as hell write a mean jingle. Oh, and in just two years, Hot Wheels grew from $79m to over $300m in Domestic Sales, so, yeah, all that stuff we did kind of worked.

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