Ken doll effort has genuine problems

BREAKING NEWS: Barbie develops strategic behavioral experiment enlisting genetically perfected human beings to compete as Ken-testants for the title of "Great American Boyfriend," as well as for eternal life via doll form.

BREAKING NEWS: Barbie develops strategic behavioral experiment enlisting genetically perfected human beings to compete as Ken-testants for the title of “Great American Boyfriend,” as well as for eternal life via doll form. The effort promotes Mattel's new Ken dolls with genitals, following a Ken-driven outbreak of childhood confusion about the makeup of the human form.
   
OK, we'll stop channeling The Onion, but that scenario may have been a more enlightening version of the real campaign, which is a brand-driven version of Paris Hilton's “My New BFF.” Genuine Ken, Mattel's online reality show, challenges eight guys to compete to be America's “ultimate boyfriend for every occasion.” A series of eight 22-minute elimination challenges, hosted by human Barbie Whitney Port, aired on Hulu in mid-January.
   
The reason we, along with Barbie's target audience, indulge in this nonsense is in line with the natural inclination to gape at an accident.  
   
Initial promotion included a microsite with descriptions and videos of the contestants, as well as links to a Barbie-tastic Facebook page, but no explanation as to what they get in the end, other than a title. It would make sense for the winner to get a date with Port, but we're guessing she nixed that idea since the most impressive bachelor is a 23-year-old lifeguard and child-care provider, with the talent of “dancing and inspiring people,” at least according to an informal PRWeek poll.
   
Celebrity guest judges could also get us to tune in, but respect Barbie no more than we did when she and Ken broke up for no reason in 2004, after 40-plus years of love.
   
We do, however, respect a brand collaboration represented by the Genuine Ken suits provided by Kenneth Cole.
   
Barbie's impressive 50th anniversary campaign, including a Fashion Week runway show and high-profile brand and influencer partnerships, helped us forget about the Oreo Barbies and Earring Magic Kens of the past.
   

For now, we're forced to relive those PR flops and wait to see if this latest campaign has Barbie legs.

PR Play Rating:

1 Clueless

2 Ill-advised

3 On the right track

4 Savvy

5 Ingenious

 

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