Today's dose of news is an odd one. As I sit here enjoying a cup of coffee and sifting through the "goings-on", I've just learned that Mattel has won a permanent injunction vs MGA, barring sales of Bratz dolls. Given that I have no children, you might ask how I even know what a Bratz doll is - well, I have neices that loves these things way more than Barbie dolls - when you have a 6-yr old telling you that, "Barbie's are old school, but Bratz girls are really cool", you know marketing is working! So the first time I ever went to the store on a Bratz hunt, I admit being a bit surprised when I saw some wearing jeans tighter than Bongos, belly-rings, collagen-injected lips, and more than their fair share of pornstar outfits. You know it's strange when the most conservative doll you can find for your neice is a skin-tight skiing outfit where at least the doll's 'assets' are covered! Don't get me wrong - I love sexy and attractive female outfits . . . but for a 4-yr old? C'mon, give me a break.
I understand the American Psychology Association also reported similar concerns, "Although these dolls may present no more sexualization of girls or women than is seen in MTV videos, it is worrisome when dolls designed specifically for 4- to 8-year-olds are associated with an objectified adult sexuality," the report says." The Iranian immigrant CEO, Isaac Larian, of course, 'adamantly disagrees', stating "These are the clothes that are worn if you go to schools anywhere in the USA." Hmmm . . . you have to chuckle at the irony here given how Iranian women are harangued and potentially stoned for as much as showing off an ankle in burkas that are only available in 2 wonderful colors: Black and Dark Black. I guess Bratz don't subscribe to the Islamic female dress code - yep, no Annual Fall Fundamentalist Fashion Show for us!
Anyway, shifting gears slightly, Carter Bryant was apparently working for Mattel when he developed the Bratz concept while working for Bratz. My take? Well, taking Bratz off the shelves will be catastrophic for MGA. While privately held, it's obvious that Bratz is MGA and MGA is Bratz. With all our current job losses, we don't need another 1500 people out of work, but my guess is that most will be absorbed by competitors such as Mattel, Jax Pacific, etc. The bigger mystery for me, as an Executive Recruiter, is how in the hell MGA's CEO didn't try to hire Carter Bryant. Was there at least a valiant effort - after meeting and realizing this guy could make you a billionaire, did it not occur to recruit him away? Seriously, are you kidding me? You got what you had coming, Pal - next time, open your wallet and make an offer your mission-critical Designer can't refuse.
However, let's turn the cube slightly. Was not hiring Carter Bryant full-time a bad move? Well, and let's keep it real, Isaac Larian can lay on a beach sipping Martinis for the rest of his life. A Bloomberg article this morning states, "Bratz sales through June were $3.1 billion, according to evidence at the trial. MGA said its Bratz profit was $405.4 million, while Mattel claimed it was as much as $777.9 million." So, in hindsight, Isaac Larian had to know he was taking on a risk by hiring a moonlighting designer working for Mattel that may have yielded no fruit, so assuming paying out my guess of $50k USD in contractor fees, MGA saw profits of between $400B USD to $700B USD. Now, that's not quite apples to apples as ~$50k was only the initial investment as the dolls still had to manufactured, marketed, and distributed . . . but it sure sounds like a pretty good deal to me.
At the end of the day, I once again can conclude that despite our current economic woes and a globalizing economy, the 'American Dream' is still alive if a 17-yr old Iranian can immigrate to L.A. with $750 dollars in his pocket and go from washing dishes while attending Cal State University before starting MGA and becoming a Billionaire. At the end of the day, maybe MGA will start producing and marketing Burka-wearing dolls whose only curves that show are their heads and shoulders . . . but my guess is that they wouldn't sell here in the gool ole' U.S.A. :)