Mattel’s #ThankYouHeroes Collection Deserves Cautious Commendation

(Source: Mattel)

By Karim Aziz Oghly

Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, medical professionals, delivery workers, and grocery store employees were only appreciated for stand-out actions. Mattel’s decision to create a new line of products highlighting “everyday heroes” is merely a capitalization on people’s vulnerability at this time. 

What appears to be a common annoyance amongst medical practitioners, in light of recent events, is the sudden onslaught of support. Doctors and nurses have been working countless hours, days and nights, treating people in some of the direst conditions. Their contributions to society have always been known, yet rarely appreciated. 

People working in essential sectors, such as deliveries and grocery stores, were rarely ever commended for their contribution to society. Their benefactors, on the other hand, rarely remained anonymous. 

How can one ever forget the videos of teenagers, and even adults, running through grocery store aisles and slapping exploding gallons of milk together as if jousting? Or, better yet, the footage depicting the eerie, apocalyptic, nature of Black Friday. 

Delivery workers, meanwhile, remain the unsung heroes. They travel nations simply to deliver whatever you asked for while usually working on minimum wage. Without a delivery person, certain conveniences of modern life may face disruption. 

Mattel, as valiant and noble as their action may be, appear to be capitalizing on the situation. Mattel’s contribution of $15 from every $20 figure to the “#FirstRespondersFirst” aid illustrates that the company does, in fact, wish to do good. Yet, when looking at the company itself, it’s difficult not to praise their public relations and marketing teams. Mattel finds itself a dying industry as younger generations shift their interests from Barbie dolls and Hot Wheels to TikTok, make-up pallets, iPhones, and video games. Assuming the figures cost $5 to produce and logistically manage, such an endeavor will likely not bring much profit for Mattel. But, brand recognition and reputation are what matter today. The “#ThankYouHeroes” collection aims to promote Mattel as a brand that “cares.”  

The current societal landscape does call for increased support for essential workers. We have been forced to reevaluate our definition of “essential.” A studio executive earning in a day the   annual salary of a grocery store clerk is not deemed as essential. Those working on the front lines to keep society intact are those that are, indeed, indispensable. Their contributions should not go ignored, they should be praised. 

Life in lockdown and a fear of a deadly virus looming has caused a shift in perspective. Those who have always deserved our praise have finally gotten it. Mattel’s efforts are commendable but are clearly a method of marketing their brand. Yet, regardless, the problem here is not the sudden support, but the previous lack of it.