Tune in to this episode of the Will It Stick? Podcast with hosts Alexis and Melissa as they take a look at how brands utilize crazy marketing stunts and campaigns to go viral. In this episode, they take a look at the history of a brand most everyone is familiar with: Barbie. Find out how one company alone created a pop culture icon that created such a controversy and generated so much of the world’s attention. Did it stick? Find out here!
They take us back to 1956, before Barbie even existed. Ruth Handler believed the paper and baby dolls weren’t cutting it for her daughter Barbara. It was on a trip to Germany that the family found the first toy doll that represented a grown woman, rather than the baby dolls Barbara was so used to playing with. Ruth’s husband, Elliot Handler, was the co-founder of Mattel and Ruth saw an opportunity to bring a similar doll to the United States. She presented the idea to the company’s head engineer, who was hesitant to create a toy with the figure of a woman. Finally, with much persistence from Ruth, Barbie was born!
The doll debuted at the American International Toy Fair on March 9th, 1959. When Barbie was first released, she was marketed as a “teenage fashionista”. Barbie was one of the first toys to rely only on TV advertisements. Mattel was the first company to market their commercials to kids. By 1957, Mattel’s toy production profited $9,00,000 worldwide. Barbie is such an iconic toy that she really has never had any competitors! Mattel even hired professional fashion designers and stylists to curate Barbie’s look, inspired by the top designers at Paris fashion Week.
But, with any great success usually comes controversy. In 1963, feminists were protesting against Barbie’s curvy body and sexualized origins. Were their critiques justified? Many people saw Barbie as a figure for challenging gender roles and inspiring young girls to dream. One of Mattel’s largest marketing stunts was the launch of Barbie’s Dreamhouse during a time when women weren’t even allowed to have their own bank account. Needless to say, people were shocked by Barbie’s independence! For a week Barbie had her own boulevard in Times Square and Andy Warhol even painted a portrait of the iconic doll.
Mattel has been on top of the game in adapting and staying with current trends. Barbie made her own Instagram account and loves posting about her adventures, sparking brands to desire Barbie in their own campaigns. Listen to hear how Barbie even inspired tourism in Arizona and had an appearance in the Louvre!
Barbie now has an entire marketing engine, proving her adaptability to ever-changing societal trends. She now has dolls, clothes, books, video games and more. It is safe to say that Barbie is a true cultural icon around the world and will be for many years to come!
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Watch the first Barbie commercial here.
Read all about Barbie through the ages.
Find more information from this Brandyuva article.
Check out Barbie Media.