Mattel bringing Hot Wheels stunt to X Games

Mattel bringing Hot Wheels stunt to X Games

By Tripp Mickle, Staff Writer


Nearly a year after bringing its toy cars to life at the Indy 500, Hot Wheels is preparing to throw its next big stunt at this summer’s X Games.

The Mattel-owned brand has signed a deal with ESPN and is in the process of planning a stunt that calls for two vehicles to drive on a life-size version of its famed super loop track set, said sources familiar with preliminary plans.

Terms of the deal weren’t available, but sources valued it in the seven-figure range and said it will include TV time on ABC.

Mattel and ESPN officials declined to comment.

The planned X Games stunt is part of Hot Wheels’ new marketing strategy, which is designed to expand interest in its brand and products from children to the 18- to 34-year-old demographic. Last year it developed a campaign called “Hot Wheels for Real” that included traditional commercials and viral videos that told the story of a fictional, Area 51-like site where cars have
A life-size version of Mattel's V-Drop track set propelled Tanner Foust's car 332 feet in the air for a world record at last year's Indy 500. A new stunt is planned for this summer's X Games.
Photo by: KETCHUM (2)
performed stunts in secret for 43 years. The premise was that Hot Wheels never made a toy car or motorcycle unless it performed well at its top-secret test facility.

The brand’s goal was to reignite interest in the brand among men who played with Hot Wheels as kids in hopes that they would collect the toys or play with them with their own kids. It also hoped to expand its product line to include gaming and apparel.

“It was born out of insight: How do we attract those fans that used to play with Hot Wheels but no longer have an affinity for the brand?” said Simon Waldron, vice president of marketing for Hot Wheels at Mattel, during a panel last fall at the NASCAR Motorsports Marketing Forum in Las Vegas. “We knew that if we wanted to really expand our brand we needed to do something that would grab their imagination and get them thinking about how great their previous experiences were with Hot Wheels.”

The climax of last year’s promotion occurred during the Indianapolis 500 where Mattel built a life-size version of its V-Drop track set, complete with a door. Drifting and rally car driver Tanner Foust drove down the ramp and catapulted his car 332 feet through the air to set a world record.

X Games offers an ideal platform for Hot Wheels’ second major stunt. The action sports event has the youngest average TV audience in sports at 33 years old, and it’s known for annually pushing the envelope with some of the most progressive moments in action sports, such as Tony Hawk’s 900 and Travis Pastrana’s double back flip on a dirt bike. It also takes place in Los Angeles, a much larger market than Indianapolis.

The Hot Wheels deal gives X Games a sponsor that has shown a commitment in the past to significant activation spending. The ESPN property had four official partners and 11 sponsors across its TV, print and digital platforms for last summer’s event.

Mattel hasn’t released any of its activation plans for the X Games stunt. For its Indy 500 effort, the company ran a sweepstakes that awarded prizes highlighted by a trip to the Indy 500.

The company worked with the California production company Bandito Brothers and the Los Angeles creative agency Mistress on its Indy 500 promotion.