Barbie is getting a new publicist: Michelle Chidoni leaves Mattel for Facebook

She spent over a decade with the toymaker.

MENLO PARK, Calif.: Mattel’s VP of global brand communications Michelle Chidoni is heading to Facebook.

On October 21, Chidoni is joining the social network in a newly created role, heading marketing communications. She will report to Sona Iliffe-Moon, Facebook’s head of consumer comms. 

"My role was created to help drive 360-degree brand programming for Facebook," Chidoni said.  

Chidoni’s last day at Mattel is October 11. Her role at Mattel will be split into two positions: one based in El Segundo, California, and one in New York City. Marissa Beck, senior director of Mattel PR will be Chidoni’s replacement in El Segundo. The New York role is still open, she said.

A PRWeek 40 Under 40 honoree in 2016, Chidoni is leaving her role at the toymaker after almost 12 years.

While at Mattel, she was tasked with keeping Barbie’s 60-year-old brand relevant. She first started at the toymaker in 2007 as senior manager of PR and took a brief detour to Disney Interactive Media Group in 2012, where she was senior manager of communications. In 2013, she rejoined Mattel as director of brand communications for North America and she was upped to VP of global comms in 2015, according to her LinkedIn profile.

While at Mattel, Chidoni helped lead the introduction of "curvy" Barbie, along with two other new body types for the doll: tall and petite.

Mattel recently released a line of gender-inclusive dolls, called Creatable World, which allows kids to customize their doll to create a toy that isn't dictated by gender norms. The Barbie Judge Doll was also revealed earlier this month as the 2019 Barbie Career of the Year doll.

Earlier this year, Mattel hired Brew Media Relations CEO Dena Cook as EVP and global head of communications and PR. Cook reports to Mattel chairman and CEO Ynon Kreiz. The last person to hold the top comms position at Mattel was Nancy Elder, who left the toy company last October. Sports streaming platform DAZN hired Elder in July as its first chief corporate comms officer.

In recent years, Mattel has struggled with falling sales, operating losses, a heavy debt load and recurring changes in senior management. Last year the company lost $531 million on sales of $4.5 billion.

Kreiz has been trying to revive sales for the toy company by launching films that feature its brands, such as Barbie and American Girl. Mattel launched a film division in September 2018.

Facebook’s senior communications team has seen a number of changes in recent months. Its director of corporate and financial communications Vanessa Chan exited in August. In April, Facebook named John Pinette as VP of global communications, taking over from Caryn Marooney. Last October, Facebook hired former U.K. Deputy Prime Minister and ex-leader of the Liberal Democrats Nick Clegg as its VP of global affairs and communications.

Despite PR crises, Facebook reported better-than-expected Q2 results. Revenue was $16.9 billion, up 28% year-on-year.

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