Mattel's Hot Wheels planning mega Indy 500 event

January 14, 2011
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As a journalist, I hear lots of promises.

And I hear a fair amount of them from the folks at the IndyCar Series. Some of those come to fruition. Some, well, not so much.

I’m still waiting on the “mega activation” deal on par with the Izod deal that was promised back in the fall. That deal is now either on the side burner, back burner or the deep freeze depending on what source is doing the talking.

But I’m now being promised that there’s another deal very much on the front burner and will be red hot when served up for public consumption later this month.

At Tuesday’s State of the Series presentation, a veiled reference about a big to-do involving Mattel, the maker of games, toys and tiny cars, was made.

When I asked IndyCar Series CEO Randy Bernard and Indianapolis Motor Speedway CEO Jeff Belskus about it, they wouldn’t divulge any details other that to say it was going to be awesome and that it would be announced within two to three weeks. A source with knowledge of the Mattel talks called it a “massive publicity stunt sure to get people’s attention.”

The deal, ICS and IMS executives confirmed, will involve the series and the centennial running of the Indianapolis 500 this year. Izod is also looking to be a part of the event.

In early 2009, Mattel signed a deal with the open-wheel series and several months later, rolled out a line of IndyCar-themed Hot Wheels cars.

Mattel officials, pleased with the two-year-old deal, approached IndyCar and Speedway officials late last year about making a bigger splash with the series this May. The discussions to plan the event are ongoing.

California-based Mattel is no lightweight, and certainly has the marketing muscle to make a big splash surrounding the Indianapolis 500 if it so desires. Hot Wheels, which first came out in 1968, is easily North America’s leading seller of toy and replica cars. Hot Wheels has long been one of Mattel’s top revenue generators internationally.

Mattel’s target market—kids—is spot on with the demographic Bernard and his posse are trying to cultivate.

Promises are easy to make. That hard part is making sure you have an engine to propel those promises toward fruition.

  • A New Set Of Collectibles for the Defender Household
    I certainly hope it's better than the one Hot Wheels show car they have dragged around to tracks the past couple of years. I will be a believer in such a partnership when Indy Car Hot Wheels start supplanting NASCAR-themed offering at my local Wal-Mart.

    I will be very anxious to see what rolls out!
  • In the interest of full disclosure, I was always a Matchbox fan, Hot Wheels always had cheaper materials and thin wire axles that bent easily when you forgot to put the cars away and your Dad stepped on them.

    That said, all of this is good for the series. If Mattel is doing this because they are pleased with their previous involvement, then it backs up what IZOD has said.

    Contrary to what Chief and his friends say, the 100th means a lot to a lot of people, and it is something we will see a lot more of over the next year.

    Hopefully IMS can parlay this into more permanent fans.
  • Hot Wheels
    It's a great partnership, but these promises need to be backed up by some real events. The centennial has been woefully marketed to this point. They need to get it in gear.
  • Toys
    My 5 and 12 year old boys will love to hear more Indycar product will be available for "me" to buy during our regular speedway visits.
  • Please
    The IndyCar Series must be small taters these days. Turn out the lights, the party's over.

    Burl, Chief, and the others have it right: The sport is through.
  • Congrats and thank you to Indycar and its drivers for doing the USO tour to support the troops. Working with the soldiers everyday, I see how much this kind of thing means to them.

    Sarah Fisher is planning on bringing a group of drivers down to Camp Atterbury this May. Good job guys, the soldiers appreciate it.
  • Hot Wheels for Real
    Guess it IS true...

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  1. With Pence running the ship good luck with a new government building on the site. He does everything on the cheap except unnecessary roads line a new beltway( like we need that). Things like state of the art office buildings and light rail will never be seen as an asset to these types. They don't get that these are the things that help a city prosper.

  2. Does the $100,000,000,000 include salaries for members of Congress?

  3. "But that doesn't change how the piece plays to most of the people who will see it." If it stands out so little during the day as you seem to suggest maybe most of the people who actually see it will be those present when it is dark enough to experience its full effects.

  4. That's the mentality of most retail marketers. In this case Leo was asked to build the brand. HHG then had a bad sales quarter and rather than stay the course, now want to go back to the schlock that Zimmerman provides (at a considerable cut in price.) And while HHG salesmen are, by far, the pushiest salesmen I have ever experienced, I believe they are NOT paid on commission. But that doesn't mean they aren't trained to be aggressive.

  5. The reason HHG's sales team hits you from the moment you walk through the door is the same reason car salesmen do the same thing: Commission. HHG's folks are paid by commission they and need to hit sales targets or get cut, while BB does not. The sales figures are aggressive, so turnover rate is high. Electronics are the largest commission earners along with non-needed warranties, service plans etc, known in the industry as 'cheese'. The wholesale base price is listed on the cryptic price tag in the string of numbers near the bar code. Know how to decipher it and you get things at cost, with little to no commission to the sales persons. Whether or not this is fair, is more of a moral question than a financial one.