Mattel Promo, Case study HOT WHEELS GOES FEARLESS AT THE INDY 500 by Ketchum New York

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Industry Toys
Media Promo & PR, Case study
Market United States
Agency Ketchum New York
Account Supervisor Arden Anlian
Released May 2011

Credits & Description

Category: Best Use of Live Events and/or Stunts
Advertiser: MATTEL
Product/Service: MATTEL
Vice President: Sara Rosales (Mattel)
Pr Manager: Rachel Cooper (Mattel)
Senior Vice President/Associate Director: Deanne Yamamoto (Ketchum)
Vice President/Management Supervisor: Alisa Feinstein (Ketchum)
Account Supervisor: Arden Anlian (Ketchum)
Account Supervisor/Vp: Sofia Lombardo (Ketchum)
Media Director: Cj Martinez (Ketchum)
Media Specialist: Matt Wolf (Ketchum)
Senior Account Executive: Stephanie Mussell (Ketchum)
Assistant Account Executive: Myles Worthington (Ketchum)
Media placement: Event - FOX & Friends, ESPN, Complex - 11 February 2011
Media placement: Media Announcement - The New York Times, ESPN, Wired, Associated Press And More - 12 April 2011
Media placement: Stunt - 1,500 Global Stories - 29 May 2011

Summary of the Campaign
In 2011, Hot Wheels wanted to break away from the overcrowded toy market and capture the attention of a new generation of dads before the holiday shopping season.

Dads, the brand knew, are just big boys who want the thrills boys get from Hot Wheels, but on a bigger scale. So the brand scaled up... way up.

At the Indianapolis 500, Hot Wheels built a kid’s bedroom door 10-stories high, attached a super-sized version of its iconic V-drop track and sent a driver in a full-size replica of a Hot Wheels car soaring across the infield to set a world record jump. 'Fearless at the 500' was a crazy-risky stunt that brought the toy to real life.

And the fearless PR pit crew maximised its mileage. Beforehand, PR created teaser videos and a Funny or Die skit that had dads everywhere questioning, “Is this really happening?” Afterwards, PR put the jump on YouTube, seeded it in all the right places, and dads around the world made it YouTube’s most-viewed video over Memorial Day weekend, capturing nearly 6m views by summer’s end.

By holiday season, sales were racing, too – jumping 11% in 2011, compared to 1% in 2010.

The Situation
There’s 1 toy brand known around the world for teaching boys how to 'vroom' and offering them the first glimpse into the world of thrilling vehicle experiences. And that iconic brand is Hot Wheels.

But by 2011, it seemed that multi-coloured LEDs and voice recognition robots were getting all the buzz in the increasingly crowded toy market. Hot Wheels wanted to grab the spotlight during the summer months leading into the crucial holiday season.

The brand also wanted to connect with a new generation of dads who are more involved in their kids’ lives, playtime and their toy choices.

The Goal
Business goal: Help drive Hot Wheels' holiday season sales.

Communications objective: Drive cultural noise and conversation about the stunt to engage young dads.

Audience: Young dads, 25-35.

Research and Insights: With young adults, content is king, so social components and online buzz would be critical. We reviewed studies showing that males like convenience, efficiency and simplicity when it comes to the internet; for the most part, males know what they like and flock to their favorite websites/blogs for quick advice, guidance and direction. Hot Wheels knew that to capture their attention, we had to meet them on their turf.

The Strategy
Take the childhood experience of playing with Hot Wheels to real life in full scale.

Boys love speed, adrenaline and power. That’s why they play with Hot Wheels. As boys grow older and become dads, they seek the same thrills but on a much larger scale. So to rev their engines, the brand decided to bring the orange track to life – full-size life – with a world-record-setting jump at the Indianapolis 500.

To make this stunt more than a fleeting roar of the crowd, PR would need to create media-worthy moments leading into the event and continue the momentum after the jump. The moments would encapsulate everything boys love about playing with Hot Wheels and trigger that childhood imagination and excitement among dads online with riveting content related to the stunt, teasing them beforehand and keeping them engaged for months afterwards.

February and March:
Launched Team Hot Wheels at Toy Fair and, with video site Funny or Die, created and distributed 'The Fifth Racer', a video starring Jeremy Piven as a Team Hot Wheels wannabe.

Aligned 4 feature stories to break the stunt announcement on April 12, from 4 differing angles: Associated Press (general), New York Times (marketing), (tech) and ESPN (sports), creating a flurry of follow-up media.

May (pre-stunt):
Secured stories about building the giant set-up at the Speedway.

Drove speculation around the identity of the 'Yellow Driver' performing the stunt by releasing a teaser video and conducting media interviews.

Partnered with GetGlue to enable users to check into 'Fearless at the 500'.

May and June (post-stunt):
Saturated media with stunt coverage.

Revealed stunt driver, Tanner Foust, and executed national/regional satellite media tour.

Released 'Fearless at the 500' world record-breaking jump footage via YouTube and Facebook and seeded the link to all media targets.

Documented Results
Communications objective: Drive cultural noise and conversation about the stunt to engage young dads.

'Fearless at the 500' was the number 1 YouTube video worldwide over Memorial Day weekend, and YouTube views totaled more than 5m by summer’s end. YouTube analytics showed video was most popular with males 25-35.

1,500 global stories, resulting in 1.5bn earned media impressions, with more than 475 broadcast segments – including 'Today', 'Fox & Friends', 'Anderson Cooper 360', – and more than 645 online placements, including,, and BuzzFeed.

40% increase in monthly active Facebook users.

With more than 118,000+ views, Hot Wheels’ 'Fifth Racer', ranked number 3 in a top 10 roundup of the most hilarious branded entertainment campaigns by Mashable.

8,200+ GetGlue check-ins with social reach of 1.5m.

Business goal: Help drive Hot Wheels holiday season sales.

Holiday season sales jumped 11% in 2011, compared to 1% in 2010.