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Mattel pairs toy line with iPad app to boost engagement

Mattel is banking on the iPad as a strong engagement tool for children with a new application that uses the built-in interactive elements of the device to let kids play with toys on a new level.

Mattel?s Apptivity Central iPad app is available for free download from Apple?s App Store.  A line of five different Mattel toys work with the app.

?iPad and iPhone apps along with other interactive tablet and mobile Web apps, at this stage of mobile, most likely pull a larger draw in to market new toys to children,? said Marci Troutman, CEO of SiteMinis, Atlanta.

?Children are growing up on the interactive digital hand held devices, they know more than the baby boomers on use and how to interact,? she said.

Ms. Troutman is not affiliated with Mattel. She commented based on her expertise on the subject.

Mattel did not meet press deadline.

Mobile toys
In order to use the app, consumers must buy one of Mattel?s Apptivity retail figures.

For instance, consumers who buy a pack of Hot Wheels can unlock nine games and additional content by placing the toy car on the iPad and launching the app.

Additionally, Batman figurines can interact with the app to let users play an interactive game.

A WWE Rumblers figure lets consumers play three different games by placing the toy on the screen.

Mattel has also created figurines based off of the popular mobile games Fruit Ninja and Cut the Rope. The Fruit Ninja statue unlocks the game into two-player mode, and the Cut the Rope version lets users access a special game mode.

Each toy also has an individual app from Apple?s App Store that can be downloaded in addition to the Mattel Apptivity Central iPad app.

Mobile tools
Mattel also recently rolled out a mobile site to let consumers browse and buy toys while on the go (see story).

By tacking on an iPad app as a complement to a line of toys, Mattel is able to build an extra level of engagement around a product.

The Mattel campaign shows how marketers are increasingly rolling out initiatives aimed at children on mobile, specifically around the iPad.

In particular, the iPad is a great device for these kinds of initiatives with its interactive features and larger screens.

The iPad?s built-in finger swipes and gestures make the device especially geared towards educational purposes.

Mattel is not the only brand banking on the iPad as an engagement tool for children.

For instance, Sesame Workshop also recently rolled out an app around its Cookie Monster character to tell a story that let kids follow along with games (see story).

Additionally, Lego launched an app earlier this year to mobilize its famous block toys to help young children develop cognitive skills (see story).

?These kinds of apps really have just started in the new digital age ? there is nowhere to go but up,? Ms. Troutman said.

Final Take
Lauren Johnson is associate reporter on Mobile Marketer, New York