She sure gets around: Fans asked to pick Barbie's 125th career

Posted on Wed Feb 10 2010

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I'd long since stopped playing with Barbie by the time she uttered the infamous phrase "Math class is tough!" in the early '90s. I agreed with her, though, and realized that with that attitude, neither of us would ever be a scientist. Barbie did go on to have illustrious, short-term careers as an astronaut, a dentist, a paratrooper and, on the other end of the spectrum, a secretary, a "stewardess," a pop singer and a pet stylist, among scores of others. It's time now to pick her 125th job, and Mattel has turned to the public to decide if she'll be an architect, computer engineer, environmentalist, news anchor or surgeon. She's highly marketable, I know, but those are heavy-hitting professions in this economy. (And the blonde bombshell won't even have to pound the pavement or earn any degrees to land the gig.) The program, which coincides with next week's annual Toy Fair in New York, will be promoted with bus and subway ads, billboards at the Jacob Javits convention site, wild postings and de rigeur Twitter and Facebook campaigns. I'm voting to make her an environmentalist, since that's vague enough to be benign and probably doesn't call for the mastery of fractions. Say, Barbie's just given me an idea …

—Posted by T.L. Stanley

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Barbie continues to celebrate her 50th birthday in very high style

Posted on Mon Nov 23 2009

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Mattel's iconic Barbie doll turned 50 this year (not that you'd know it, with those legs and tummy still smooth as acrylonitrile butadiene styrene) and is celebrating with about as many branding gambits. We've already written about Hotel Chocolat's "Barbie Box," as well as Barbie's newfound interest in retail stores and feature films. But it turns out that's just the tip of the iceberg.
  • Assouline Publishing released Barbie, a limited-edition book of Barbie photographs and artwork that reprises the anglaise technique of hand-applied "color tipping." Shipped in a pink, cloth-bound slipcase, the 128-page book retails for $500.
  • French designer Christian Louboutin designed a special pair of not-so-sensible shoes modeled after Barbie's high-altitude pumps. Rendered in shocking Pantone No. 219 pink (you didn't expect them to match anything, did you?), the haute cobbler's creations debuted at a Mattel-sponsored runway show this past February, at which a who's who of high-end designers showed off their Barbie-inspired couture. (We couldn't find the retail price for the pink pumps, but Louboutin's average footwear goes for $800 a pair, so you get the idea.)
  • The Palms hotel in Las Vegas threw open the doors of the Barbie Suite this year—a 2,350 square-foot warren of rooms covered in pink chintz and stuffed with Barbie-like furnishings such as white-wire chairs and mirrored dressers. Too bad that few people heading to Vegas these days have the chips for the $4,000 a night it costs to bed down in this fantasy suite. At least the maids won't have to work too hard to keep the Jonathan Adler-designed rooms clean.
  What's most amazing about these brand extensions is that they stem from a doll that cost $3 when it debuted in 1959 and can still be picked up at Walmart for about $35—evidence of just how far a successful brand can go. Meanwhile, at 50, Barbie has learned to diversify. For Christmas this year, her label is also selling a Twilight Edward and Bella doll set. No word on the vampire suite in Vegas as yet.

—Posted by Robert Klara

At 50, Barbie's headed for the big screen and the Mall of America

Posted on Thu Sep 24 2009

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Barbie is about to get her close-up in Hollywood, but she's not ignoring the heartland. The iconic Mattel doll, who has been celebrating her 50th birthday looking no worse for wear, will star in her first live-action feature film, via a just-brokered deal between Universal Pictures and Mattel's rep, Creative Artists Agency. She's been a holdout for the big screen, though she's had a line of successful animated direct-to-DVDs. No word on whether she'll play an astronaut or a Heidi Montag clone, though there's reason to be optimistic about the in-development story: Laurence Mark (Jerry Maguire, Julie & Julia) is producing. And coming next month: the Barbie Shop at the Mall of America, the brand's first dedicated retail store in the U.S. Among the offerings will be Twilight-themed dolls (shown here), "I Want My Dream House" T-shirts and updated Barbie campers with chandeliers and "flushing" toilets. (All mine had was a pup tent!) The store, launching in time for holiday shopping, will be in place until next spring, unless Mattel decides to make it permanent.

—Posted by T.L. Stanley

Barbie's 'unapologetic glam' inspires a new line of chocolates

Posted on Fri Feb 27 2009

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Luxury chocolatier Hotel Chocolat said today it has created "The Barbie Box" to celebrate the Mattel doll's 50th anniversary. The limited-time "Love Barbie" and "Luxe" boxes honor Barbie's "unapologetic glam of a style-superstar extraordinaire," the company says in a very giddy statement. Brand director Fredrik Ahlin says, "She is a constant inspiration, and is up there with all of the timeless icons of fashion and beauty. When I worked on this dream project, I tried to work out who she would be if she were a living person. I couldn't, there is only one Barbie. Happy birthday darling!" While Ahlin sounds completely insane, there is some rational logic to Barbie-branded chocolate—after all, candy is one thing women never outgrow. Let's just hope Barbie doesn't consume too much of it.

—Posted by Kenneth Hein

And the worst toy of the year is … Cowboy Cheerleader Barbie

Posted on Thu Feb 12 2009

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After great anticipation, the Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood has named the worst toy the year. And the winner/loser of the group's inaugural TOADY (Toys Oppressive And Destructive to Young Children) Award is: Dallas Cowboy Cheerleader Barbie, who got an impressive 6,000 votes. CCFC director Dr. Susan Linn says in a statement: "The Dallas Cowboy Cheerleader Doll comes with the shortest of short shorts, stiletto boots, and a revealing halter top. The preposterously skimpy outfit allows children to get a better view of Barbie's impossibly long legs and dangerously thin body. It embodies a host of harmful expectations about what girls are supposed to be like." It's not a great birthday present for Barbie, who turns 50 this year. She beat out Baby Alive Learns to Potty, the Power Wheels Cadillac Escalade and other toys to achieve the dishonor.

—Posted by Kenneth Hein


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