Revolutionizing package design.

Mattel cuts costs, boosts creativity, and up-levels packaging for world's most famous doll.

Company Logo

Established

1945

Employees: 25,000+ worldwide
www.mattel.com


Watch Sal Velazquez’s session
at Adobe MAX:
Reimaging Retail Design
with 3D and AR Technologies

ZERO

Cut cost for
mockup materials
to virtually zero

Objectives

Speed up the packaging design workflow

Eliminate waste and material costs associated with the prototyping and ideation phase of design

Unlock creativity by implementing a digital design system to iterate and experiment

Improve file management for easy asset location

Results

Rapidly prototype packaging concepts, dramatically decreasing time to market

3D packaging pitch showcases design intent for quick sign off or recommendations on a design

Easily share 3D design URL for buy-in from external partners, eliminating the need to travel for design reviews

Cut cost for mockup materials to virtually zero

Designers are more creative with quick iteration on design concepts and real-time feedback

Iconic doll, iconic packaging

The first Barbie was released in 1959, and since then the doll line has been one of the world's most successful and iconic toy brands. Mattel, the U.S. toy company that created Barbie, has worked diligently over the years to grow the brand exponentially. With countless Barbie toy lines, it can seem like the only employees as busy as the doll's creators are those who design her packaging.

"I used to spend an incredible amount of time on the package design process, before a design was even approved," remembers Sal Velazquez, Barbie Staff Packaging Designer at Mattel. "I needed to source out for new packaging materials, print out every design concept pitch, physically build the package, and present it to our executives. If the design was not approved, we had to go back and sometimes even start from scratch all over again."

The Barbie Dia De Muertos package and Barbie Dreamhouse package were digitally created using Adobe Dimension and presented with Adobe Aero. 

Velazquez works on everything from Barbie's many doll lines, all of which have distinct branding, such as "Barbie Careers," "Fashionistas," and "Barbie Signature," a line of collector dolls. Then there are other products, like "Barbie Dream Houses," and special editions like "Andy Warhol Barbie" and "Marvel Comic Con Barbie" dolls. It adds up to a lot of time and money invested in getting packaging designs to production. To cut costs and boost creativity, Velazquez and others at Mattel worked to shift their packaging design process from physical to digital, using a variety of Adobe Creative Cloud for enterprise solutions including Adobe Dimension and Adobe Aero to design in 3D, along with Substance, Creative Cloud Libraries, and Adobe Stock.

"At one time we had to create more than 10 comps of each package just to create a physical planogram for Toy Fairs. Thankfully, my workflow has advanced greatly with use of new 3D and augmented reality (AR) software technology now available for designers like me," adds Velazquez.


Before Adobe Dimension, we spent money outsourcing everything from physical test prints, embossing effects, spot varnishes, foil applications, and actual paper materials to create a physical package comp before it even got an approval. Now, we can quickly create a design in 3D and apply all these materials using Adobe Dimension or Substance Source.

 

Sal Velazquez
Barbie Packaging Designer, Mattel


By incorporating Adobe Dimension into their packaging design workflow, Mattel created a much more positive, iterative workflow for designers. Velazquez and his fellow designers create 3D digital planograms in Dimension, using realistic-looking materials and digital packouts, quickly and effectively. 

"Before Adobe Dimension, we spent money outsourcing everything from physical test prints, embossing effects, spot varnishes, foil applications, and actual paper materials to create a physical package comp before it even got an approval. Now, we can quickly create a design in 3D and apply all these materials using Adobe Dimension or Substance Source," Velazquez says.

The packaging design team uses these 3D mockups to pitch their design concepts to business units and to get signoff on concepts, all without a single material being wasted. "By not making physical comps, we're easily saving thousands of dollars a month on paper alone. Not to mention the cost for glue, tape, chip board, specialty materials, and all the labor that goes into assembly," says Velazquez.

Most of the packaging designers at Mattel do not come from a 3D background. Fortunately, they were able to easily implement a new workflow that drives Mattel's digital packaging design models into Dimension. They often make use of the library of 3D models in Adobe Stock to help them express their design intent in design pitches. For example, for a recent "Barbie Wonder Woman" package, the design team purchased a 3D model of the Lincoln Memorial and rendered it as art for the doll's packaging insert background.

Velazquez has taken his digital packaging design workflow to the next level, as well, by bringing his designs into AR to showcase them in retail environments. "With Adobe Aero, I can take my design and share it in AR and even place it on a planogram to communicate what my design can look like in the real world. Since we are all currently working virtually, this process is even more beneficial as there is no need to be physically present for a design pitch," he says.


“I no longer have to leave the software I'm working in to access design assets. As long as I drop the asset into my Creative Cloud Library, I am set. I can also easily collaborate and share my Library files and style guides with coworkers or even external vendors.”

 

Sal Velazquez
Barbie Packaging Designer, Mattel


 


Seamless asset management across an extensive product line

The team at Barbie also uses Creative Cloud Libraries to manage their assets and ensure that all team members can easily access what they need, when they need it. In the past, package designers had difficulty finding and organizing creative assets for a project, which caused complexity with asset management and brand consistency. 

Not any more. The Mattel team now creates a folder for each brand segment or assignment, in Creative Cloud Libraries, and categorizes its assets so that all designers can quickly access them regardless of which Adobe app they are using. This helps the team work quicker, while also making it easier to ensure consistency across designs.

"I no longer have to leave the software I'm working in to access design assets. As long as I drop the asset into my Creative Cloud Library, I am set. I can also easily collaborate and share my Library files and style guides with coworkers or even external vendors. This alone helps me be far more nimble and effective," Velazquez adds.

Adobe Dimension was used to digitally create package renders for both Barbie Color Reveal Doll and Barbie Camper.

Creativity unlocked

One of the major advantages of shifting to a 3D design workflow has been the opportunity to be more creative, says Velazquez. By being able to rapidly iterate inside of Adobe Dimension, the packaging design team can play around with different aspects of their designs, without needing to waste materials or scrap a physical comp that they spent hours on already. But it was Adobe Aero that truly got the team excited to explore new possibilities.

"I am working on concepts where you can apply QR codes to packaging instructions, so someone can see all of the toy’s features in AR by scanning it and opening Aero – all of this in the aisle of a store! We now regularly use a 1:1 AR store merch concept and view it at different angles to further help our design decisions," adds Velazquez.

The team also uses Dimension to quickly create 3D packaging concepts to share with their engineers before the die-line is even being worked on. This allows the engineers to weigh in and provide their ideas and points-of-view, before considerable resources are invested in a design. This fosters more collaboration across Mattel, and ultimately gives stakeholders the chance to further contribute to the creative process.

Velazquez says the smoother processes allow him to think more about the bigger picture at Mattel. "I’m always on the lookout for inspiration from new trends and technology. We can take that information and those learnings to explore ways of applying it to Barbie packaging designs. This brand may be 60 years old, but the DNA and messaging couldn't be more relevant in our current time."

 



There are so many opportunities to turn our process upside down in a good way that not only shortens our production time but also truly reveals end results that only benefit the end consumer. It's really exciting, and even more exciting to see our marketing partners get excited about all the possibilities!

 

Sal Velazquez
Barbie Packaging Designer, Mattel


 


A more playful future

For Mattel, investing in technology that empowers creativity is a priority. The packaging design team is constantly looking for new and innovative ways to use AR and VR to communicate their vision, pushing the boundaries of what we think of as a package and its purpose. 

"There are so many opportunities to turn our process upside down in a good way that not only shortens our production time but also truly reveals end results that only benefit the end consumer," says Velazquez. "It's really exciting, and even more exciting to see our marketing partners get excited about all the possibilities!" 

The move to Adobe Dimension and Adobe Aero, with the help of Adobe Stock and Creative Cloud Libraries, has helped everyone think further "outside of the box." Already, they are working on new (top secret) concepts for how Barbie fans will shop for and interact with the product in retail environments.

Watch Sal Velazquez’s session at Adobe MAX: Reimaging Retail Design with 3D and AR Technologies.

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Let’s talk about what Creative Cloud can do for your business.