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The Score - Anthony Schoettle

Welcome to The Score, your place for hard-hitting sports business news, fast-breaking updates and fuel-injected debate.  Buckle up.  I'm your host, Anthony Schoettle, IBJ sports reporter.

Sports Business

Mattel's Hot Wheels planning mega Indy 500 event

January 14, 2011
KEYWORDS Sports Business

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.
 

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