Rratz Sassy as Ever - The Morris and King Company
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CreatorIsaacLarian is keeping Bratz and his multibillion companyin the
newswith sawy businessmovesthat prove he'snot playing around.
When IsaacLarian introducedBratz dolls in 2001,he neverimaginedhis line would give Barbie
a run for her money. Six yearslater,Larian is holding on to his young consumers'attentionby
competingin the virtual world and acquiringtoy companiesacrossthe globe.
The imaginationand hard work keepingthis lranian-bornentrepreneur's
nothing new for him. After all, he cameto the United Statesin the early 1970swith $750 in his
pocketand today headsVan Nuys, California-basedMGA Entertainment,Inc., a companywith
more than $2.5 billion in retail salesworldwide.
Although Larian and his company have been around since 1982,he didn't createBratz until
nearly 20 years later. The idea for the dolls emergedwhen Larian and his design team were
discussinghow to createa uniquefashiondoll for older girls, sinceBarbie'starget demographic
were 4-to-6-year-old girls. When the team came up with Bratz, Larian first sought approval from
his targetdemographic:his I l-year-old daughter.
Once she gave her stamp of approval, they moved forward, working on creative packaging and
innovativeadvertisingfor the multiculturalline of dolls. "Of courseentrepreneurs
on the positive side of things, and they alwaysthink everything'sgoing to be big, but I never
thoughtBratz were going to be this big," Larian says.The dolls, in fact, have helpedboostthe
company'sretail salesfrom nearly $200 million to today's$2.5 billion, with Bratz sales
accountingfor more than half of that amount.
Touted as the alternativeto Barbie when they were first released,Bratz have remained popular
with today's tween generation.Bratz fans will even get the chanceto seetheir favorite dolls with
attitude on the big screenthis summer when Bratz: TheMovie is releasedon August 10. The
movie, which Larian says is about friendship and diversity, will feature music from Geffen
Recordsand is being distributedby Lionsgate.
But that's not all Larian has in the works to keep his dolls flying off store shelves.Last year, the
entrepreneurand his team recognizedthe trend toward toys featuring online experiences.Girls are
progressivelymoving away from playing with actual dolls and insteadare gravitating toward
online versions.Siteslike CartoonDoll Emporium,Stardolland The Doll Palaceare attracting
tweensby allowing them to purchaseitems,suchas shoes,dressesand accessories,
MGA jumped in by launchingMiuchiz, a devicekids can useto participatein an online world.
"With more and more kids on the internet,we launchedMiuchiz as the first tool that a child could
useto play with a toy and then connectto the internetand experienceit online," saysLarian.
Other toy companieshave followed suit with productslike Ganz'sWebkinsand Ty's T), Girlz.
Mattel also announcedin April that Barbie is going cyber with the launchof the beta site for
BarbieGirls.corn.The El Segundo,California-basedcompanysaysit's the first global, online
community exclusivelyfor girls.
Larian isn't letting any of those brandsget in his way. The Bratz creatorsayshe has another line
coming out this fall that will also involve the internet."l can promiseyou that the productand the
websitewe'll launchwill be betterthan all of those,"he emphasizes.Larian and his team are
trying to anticipatefuture trendsby listeningto girls in this age group. "As girls get older,they
grow out of dolls quickly and to keeptheir attention,we haveto listento them carefully and see
what they like," he says."They changeall the time."
the Toy World
Larian is quick to point out that MGA isn'tjust about Bratz.As MGA continueshitting homeruns
in the toy genre,Larian and his team are keepingtheir eyesopento global expansionpossibilities.
brandssuchas Yummi-Land, StorytimeCollection,Rescue
Petsand Miuchiz. Adding to its portfolio, MGA recentlyacquiredpopularchildren'sbrand Little
Tikes and the worldwide licensingrights for Zapf Creations,a Europeantoy manufacturer.
"There'sa lot going on right now," saysLarian. "For the pastsevenyears,we've beentrying to
grow the businessin the U.S. and North America,and now we're trying to focus our business
internationally."In April, the companyannouncedits purchaseof Smoby Majorette,France's
leadingtoy manufacturer."The combinationof MGA, Little Tikes, Zapf andSmobywill make
MGA the numberone toy companyin Europe,"Larian says.
Larian has certainly been dealt a good deal of luck. But it's taken more than that to get him to
where he is today. "I think luck is somethingthat you make.I have beenvery lucky for
everythingthat this country has given me," he says."But I have beeneven luckier with the people
I have had aroundme at the companywho havehelpedme bring my visions to life."
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