Franchise Building: How WildBrain Spark is building the digital world of Mattel’s Cave Club

Published on: 21st September 2020

WildBrain Spark is an expert in navigating the YouTube scape and developing emerging IP in the children’s entertainment space into world-conquering franchises. This month, WildBrain Spark’s commercial director, Rachel Taylor illuminates the industry on the firm’s current partnership with Mattel and its new kids’ property Cave Club.

YouTube has changed how the toy world works, how kids play, and how they identify which products will be at the top of their wish-list. Indeed, analytics show that kids are more likely to encounter brands on YouTube than ever before.

With the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic in March, YouTube viewing of kids’ content in WildBrain’s network climbed 36 per cent in Europe and 57 per cent in North America during the subsequent two months, in comparison to the prior two months, and the average monthly watch time rose 1.2 billion minutes and 1.6 billion minutes, respectively. 

There’s no avoiding that the life cycle of toys is now tied to their popularity on YouTube, so taking an innovative marketing approach is essential. Toy companies are increasingly looking to YouTube to launch and sustain the popularity of their brands rather than heading down the traditional linear TV route. While it can initially be a little daunting for companies to take the plunge with a digital-first launch strategy, the data and insights speak for themselves with toys ranking as one of the largest genres on YouTube

In this article, we’ll look at a bold, forward-thinking strategy we are pioneering with Mattel – the development and execution of a digital-first launch strategy for their new franchise, Cave Club. We’ll explore how we are working with Mattel to roll-out the Cave Club brand in EMEA on YouTube before it launches at retail, and the benefits of taking a digital-first approach with new brand and toy launches.

Digital-First Strategy

When we were approached by Mattel to co-create an international YouTube-first strategy for their new Cave Club franchise in EMEA, it was clear they already recognised the value of strong digital content in driving new audiences, raising awareness and creating demand for product. Since the beginning of 2020, we’ve been working closely with Mattel to create an engaging YouTube strategy, spanning channel management, content curation and paid media, which would serve as the primary driver for its Cave Club launch. This digital-first strategy would be designed to introduce audiences to this exciting new IP, build excitement ahead of the retail launch, and also to create a solid fandom to sustain and grow the brand’s popularity for the long-term.   

In a study for WildBrain Spark, research shows that YouTube drives buying decisions – with 80% of parents in the US saying they would consider buying a toy, game or apparel based on their child’s favourite YouTube character. Creating strong visibility for your brand on YouTube ahead of product hitting shelves is key. 

The type and quality of content created to support a brand is also pivotal. Our data tells us that for girls watching YouTube, animation and toy play content rank as the #1 and #2 content formats, respectively. To tap into this demand, WildBrain Spark built a marketing strategy for Cave Club around the launch of two original series from Mattel. 

Firstly, Cave Tales is a CGI doll play and motion comic hybrid which introduces the dolls and their adventures. The series, which is being produced by Peacock Kids and Relish Interactive as the studio providing the animation, has been designed to bring the characters to life through animation, creating fan affinity to the brand.

Alongside this is a world-class 2D animated series called Cave Club, which is being produced by Academy Award® winning studio Six Point Harness. This series brings core themes of the brand to life with dynamic colours and humour. With each episode containing a stand-alone story, this type of content allows the WildBrain Spark team to create YouTube compilations which are highly effective for extending brand engagement. We also match key words and descriptions on each video to popular relevant searches on YouTube, and thematic playlists in the YouTube Kids App. 

Since the Cave Club channel launched in July, it has already received 60M global views and the response to the advertising campaign has been 110% above industry benchmarks. 

In today’s multi-platform and multi-screen world, toy companies and brand owners need to make sure they are playing where their audience is. By taking a bold approach and launching a brand with a YouTube-first strategy, Mattel and WildBrain Spark are trailblazing a smarter way of getting on the radar of an increasingly digitally native generation and their families. 


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