CAMPAIGNS: It’s pink faces all around for Barbie - Brand Awareness

Last April, toy giant Mattel decided to make November 1997 Pink Month, as part of a major worldwide marketing campaign to further boost turnover of top-selling doll, Barbie.

Last April, toy giant Mattel decided to make November 1997 Pink

Month, as part of a major worldwide marketing campaign to further boost

turnover of top-selling doll, Barbie.



Objectives



Mattel UK wanted to create a large scale event that would push Barbie as

a global megabrand rather than just a girls’ toy. Timed to coincide with

the run up to Christmas, it was hoped the event would strengthen

Barbie’s merchandising offshoots, including clothing and games.



Tactics



Mattel challenged Beer Davies to come up with a suitable event. Together

with urban artist Ben Jones, the agency hit upon the idea of painting a

street ’Barbie’ pink. In October, Mattel launched a radio appeal, aimed

at local councils, to find an appropriate site.



Ash Street in Salford was chosen as a location, since the surrounding

traditional terraced housing would provide a striking contrast with the

shocking pink paint. Mattel donated toys, games and a total of pounds

9,000 to local children’s projects, in return for the temporary

disruption.



In the three days before launch day of 17 November, Jones and his team

set about applying a pink coat to everything from the roofs and windows

to the road. Beer Davies hired a local security firm to protect the

site, but bad weather produced the biggest headache - with rain setting

in on the Saturday night and washing away much of the paint.



Rapid repairs became necessary. These included painting a vast quantity

of carpet pink, under cover of a local warehouse. Later the carpet had

to be rescued from rain damage.



Despite these set backs, the street was successfully transformed, the

launch went ahead and was attended by the media, residents, the mayor

and a real-life Barbie model.



Results



In the UK, the event gained press interest from the Times, Daily Mail

and Hello magazine. Broadcast coverage included Sky News, BBC News

programmes, ITN News at 10 and BBC Radio 1 and Virgin Radio breakfast

shows.



On the launch day, the Guardian ran a photo of local youngsters on the

street wearing sun glasses and the Express featured a photo of the

street with an inset picture of Barbie herself.



At a local level, GMR and Piccadilly Radio in Manchester ran the

story.



However, coverage was not restricted to the UK. The National Enquirer

and the CNN network in the US carried the story as did the Times of

India.



Mattel estimates that in total, media coverage reached over 100 million

people.



Verdict



The publicity stunt formed an effective component of what has been an

extraordinarily successful brand awareness campaign. And the visual

impact of Pink Street alone meant that it achieved widespread

coverage.



It made a fun and colourful news item for TV broadcasters and an

eye-catching picture story for the press while successfully tying back

any coverage firmly to the Barbie brand.



Client: Mattel UK

PR Team: In-house and Beer Davies

Campaign: Pink Street

Timescale: April to November 1997

Budget: pounds 90,000



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