LONDON — Toy manufacturing giant Mattel has set up a centralized content division, Mattel Creations, that will handle the company’s brands across multiple platforms including theatrical, television and digital. Mattel’s content strategy will be headed by chief content officer, Catherine Balsam-Schwaber, who joined in September. The company has also promoted Christopher Keenan as senior VP, content development and production.
Balsam-Schwaber will oversee the new division’s development slates, programming and distribution, as well as entertainment and talent relationships. “Today, toys and content are increasingly inseparable. More than ever, children expect play experiences that seamlessly combine toys, content and stories in an imaginative and engaging way,” Balsam-Schwaber said.
Keenan, who has helped develop several of Mattel/HIT Entertainment’s brands, including Thomas & Friends and Bob the Builder, will be in charge of the development and production team, to include Playground Productions in El Segundo, the HIT content creation team in London, and the American Girl content creation team in Middleton. He will be based out of Mattel’s El Segundo offices, reporting to Balsam-Schwaber.
Mattel Creations has greenlit “WellieWishers,” a 2D animated series for girls ages 5-7, from premium brand American Girl, and will present the series to buyers at MipTV.
“WellieWishers” centers on five best friends — Willa, Kendall, Ashlyn, Emerson and Camille — who “imagine, play, sing and dream in their whimsical garden.” Written by head writer Noelle Wright and exec produced by Keenan, the series will be produced and distributed by Mattel Creations content distribution team and animated at Submarine Studios in Amsterdam. The series has entered production and will be delivered to broadcasters by end of year.
Mattel’s latest CGI movie special for Barbie, “Dreamtopia,” has been acquired by several broadcasters around the world including: Cartoon Network (Latin-America), Super RTL (Germany), Pop TV (U.K.), MiniMini (Poland) and Karusel (Russia).
Mattel has been named MipTV 2016’s Brand of the Year in acknowledgement of its “track record as an innovative content creator and forward thinker.” Richard Dickson, Mattel’s president and chief operating officer, will accept the award and deliver a keynote speech on April 5 as part of the market’s Media Mastermind Keynote series.
Balsam-Schwaber will also be present at MipTV this year, speaking at the “Brands & Online Video Lunch Summit” on April 5 as well as engaging in an on-stage interview with Fullscreen’s head of sales Kevin McGurn at Fullscreen’s Digital Fronts Session on April 6.