Mattel hopes Barbie's 50th resonates with three generations

EL SEGUNDO, CA: Mattel has launched an integrated marketing campaign to promote Barbie as a symbol of fashion and pop culture on the eve of her 50th anniversary this March.

EL SEGUNDO, CA: Mattel has launched an integrated marketing campaign to promote Barbie as a symbol of fashion and pop culture on the eve of her 50th anniversary this March. The PR team aims to reach three generations of consumers and ultimately impact sales via partnerships, events, and online communications. Although the anniversary takes place March 9, the campaign is ongoing throughout the year.

Lauren Dougherty, director of PR at Mattel and one of three committee chairs for the program, said PR has been a main focus of the program since the company began planning it 18 months ago. It is working with AOR Ketchum on the effort.

“[PR] extends beyond simple media relations, to everything from touching online to in-store to... partnering with the right brands,” she said.

Mercedes Benz Fashion Week, taking place around the same time as the anniversary, was a “seamless and organic fit” for the brand, she explained. The team tapped HL Group to handle production of a “Broadway Runway Show” during Fashion Week, in which 50 designers will show Barbie-inspired looks.

Promotional tactics include a live broadcast of the show on Barbie.com, consumer media outreach, a national morning show push, and a Barbie Facebook page. A 50th anniversary microsite (http://barbiestyle.barbie.com/) includes clips from events, sharable elements, and historical elements like old commercials.

Partners marketing Barbie-branded products for the anniversary include Stila cosmetics, Bloomingdales, and interior designer Jonathan Adler, among others. The team tapped Adler to design items for Barbie's Malibu Dream House where the partners will unveil a reinterpretation of the 1959 doll on Barbie's birthday and throw a “celebrity pink carpet party.”

For the media, the team launched Barbiemedia.com in October 2008, as a clearinghouse of images, press materials, old commercials, b-roll of the dolls, and celebrity sound bites.

“The most successful approach is to give [media] guardrails but not dictate what people have to do,” said Dougherty. “[The site] provides the best assets and material so people can do really factual pieces... but still be inspired.”

Dougherty said the recent decline in Barbie sales will not affect the campaign spend or communications strategy.

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