Mattel has launched a new campaign for its iconic doll brand that is a dramatic change from its normal communication strategy. Instead of focusing on Barbie’s fashion and beauty, the brand instead released an advertisement called “Imagine the Possibilities” which features young girls in a variety of different professions such as veterinarians, sports coaches, and university professors. The ad concludes with the girls acting out these roles with their Barbies, which shows that the dolls help to open their minds to infinite possibilities for their futures.
This angle is a refreshing one for the historic doll brand that has been criticised in recent years for not updating Barbie’s look or communication to reflect a wider spectrum of women. By shifting the conversation away from the doll’s unrealistic shape negatively impacting girls’ body image to the positive impact she can have on their aspirations, Mattel seems to have finally taken a step into 2015.
The brand still has a lot of work to do to truly update its positioning to reflect modern day consumer wants and needs. A quick look on the Barbie website shows that while there are some career oriented dolls available, the majority still focus on fashion and princesses.
It seems Mattel is already working on this, however. Earlier this month the company announced its plans to launch a line of superhero dolls in collaboration with DC Entertainment and Warner Brothers. The new dolls will not only celebrate female characters, but will also have an athletic stature and focus more on strength rather than slim waists. This move shows that the company is aware of its need to do more than simply release viral videos to improve its reputation and lagging sales.
The most interesting point of all is that Barbie’s original 1959 advertisement also promoted the doll as a role model, and the ad’s jingle actually includes the lyric “someday I’m going to be just like you”. The difference is that our definition of what little girls should aspire to be when they grow up has evolved greatly since the 50s and now Barbie’s ads have finally evolved as well.