If you’re a girl like me, countless summer days were spent playing with Barbies. My favorite was Skipper, Barbie’s younger sister, followed closely by Francie with “growin’ pretty hair.” I shared the ‘70s groovy rainbow adorned Barbie camper with my sister but more often than not, we zipped around our Barbie in the best mode of transportation ever, our patent leather Mary Jane’s. Sorry Ken, only room for one!
As a brand, the core of Barbie has remained the same since her introduction at Toy Fair in 1959. Over the years there has been some movement to make her a career woman and an adventurer, but Barbie remained true to form – pun intended. As Barbie sales continued to decline, I still didn’t see any real change in what she stood for – Mattel had thousands of young girls in their grasp but weren’t tapping into Barbie’s potential to help shape their views of self-image, self-worth and womanhood. When I went into Target to buy a present for any girl, I never even went to the Barbie aisle. Being a woman who has worked hard to get where I am and doing the best to empower my female peers regardless of our looks, how in good conscience could I ever buy one for my two nieces, what kind of message would I be sending them?
Then I saw it; the shift first came at the end of last year. A commercial focused on, not Barbie’s looks, but one focused on inspiration and empowerment (check it out Imagine the Possibilities). Finally, I could start to feel good about what Mattel was promoting. Most recently, following a rollout of a new Barbie line with varying body types, BINGO! Mattel announced that the brand’s sales were up 23% in Q2. This new direction seems like a no brainer to many of us but what the heck took Mattel so long to see and to make a change?
I’ll never know what the impetus was to rebrand and refresh Barbie, though I’m sure declining sales were a major factor. With the risk of change so high, why rebrand? Here are a few situations that that may require a company to consider a rebrand or refresh:
1) Your customer changes
2) Your competition changes
3) Your industry changes
4) Your product changes
5) Your sales are way down, or are predicted to be way up
6) Your brand is no longer relevant
7) Your company has had a recent crisis/negative publicity. Change is good and a company should always be evaluating its brand to remain current and connected
Granted I am talking about a doll here, and Barbie has lots of baggage and has and will continue to have haters, but I applaud Mattel for taking steps in the right direction. And, just because I can’t get it out of my head, a few lines from Daya’s summer hit song seem relevant to this blog: Oh, I don’t know what you’ve been told, But this gal right here’s gonna rule the world, Yeah, that is where I’m gonna be because I wanna be, No, I don’t wanna sit still, look pretty.