Social media has made it possible for anybody to share ideas with the world and gain a following. One group of moms took advantage of this opportunity by launching a Facebook page urging Mattel to make bald Barbies for children who have lost their hair from chemotherapy or a hair-loss disease.
The Facebook page, which was launched last month, has not only earned nearly 100,000 “likes,” it has also received national media coverage from outlets such as MSNBC, Forbes, and Time.
The group initially created the page to “share with friends,” said Beckie Sypin, one of the initiative's founders.
“What we thought would happen was our friends would share with their friends and maybe we'd get a couple hundred or thousand ‘likes' to get it started. Then we realized there are so many more people out there that are wanting the same thing,” Sypin explained.
Although major press outlets have reached out to the group, Sypin said, Mattel has yet to contact it, except for a letter stating that the company doesn't accept outside suggestions.
Mattel did, however, issue a statement on Thursday: “We are honored that Jane Bingham and Beckie Sypin believe that Barbie could be the face of such an important cause. Mattel appreciates and respects the passion that has been built up for the request for a bald Barbie doll. As you might imagine, we receive hundreds of passionate requests for various dolls to be added to our collection. We take all of them seriously and are constantly exploring new and different dolls to be added to our line."
Sypin said the group has no intention of boycotting the company.
“We love Barbie,” she said. “We have no right to demand someone to do something, but we'd like to see it happen.”
Sypin said the group believes the bald Barbies would be therapeutic for children who are going through chemotherapy or who have a loved one suffering from cancer. She added that the Barbies could even just be sent to children's hospitals rather than being sold nationwide.
Interacting with consumers is important for companies because social channels, like Facebook and Twitter, allow 24/7 access to brands. It seems proactive for Mattel to tweet something at the Beautiful and Bald Barbie group or post a message on the group's Facebook page, especially after all the attention the movement has received in the past week.
For example, Domino's has the right idea about consumer engagement and transparency. Over the summer, the company launched a social media effort that allowed consumers to post pictures of pizzas on Facebook and add comments, good and bad, about Domino's products on its Twitter feed. The company told PRWeek that it chose not to censor the tweets and posts to be open with customers and form trustworthy relationships with them.
The strategy helped Domino's earn more than 3 million fans on Facebook by last July. Maybe it wouldn't be a bad idea for Mattel to engage more with its customers, especially with those passionate enough about Barbies to make a Facebook page about them.