Barbie’s Brand Survival

Barbie’s Brand Survival

Hitting the headlines this week is the revelation that Barbie is introducing new shapes, sizes and skin tones. Their justification is diversity, they want to be more inclusive.

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Now I don’t doubt that this is a part of the reason. Mattel have come under some heavy global media fire criticising Barbie’s disproportionate measurements and the negative effects on the children that play with them.

However, let’s not beat around the bush. Barbie’s had a hard time over the past few years. The invention of Bratz and other rival toys, not to mention iPads and other technological supplements, have opened up the field of fun for children around the world. This has meant that the humble Barbie Doll has had to adapt to survive or face its resignation to ‘Retro Toys of the 90’s’ segments on Buzzfeed and lame Christmas television shows.

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Some more of the new Barbie line up!

Now diverse Barbie’s are nothing new. My most prized possession as a child was a beautiful Benetton Barbie, one of the first modern designer Barbies that my Mum bought me back from a trip to Amsterdam.

She was stunning, her clothes were different to any of my regular Barbie dolls. Her skin tone was different, her make up was different, her eyes were more oval and she had long flowing dark hair. She looked chic and Italian. I loved her.

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Wow the power of Google – I found my Benetton Barbie online, she was called Marina!

But, I digress, what I mean to say here is, this is nothing new!

Check out the evolution of Barbie through this link.

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Check out the Twitter hash tag #TheDollEvolves

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What people are failing to ask is what is really going on here?

This is not about diversity, this is about survival. Brand survival. How does a toy stay iconic? It moves with the times and meets the expectations of it’s audience.

Barbie are cleverly using diversity to drive sales and create a strong identity that their new modern market can identify and connect with. In the past any Barbie that didn’t fit the conventional mould was labelled limited edition, like my Benetton Barbie.

They are creating this strong image for their audience to identify with by creating more shapes, sizes and skin tones and making them part of their standard range then using this to address the damaging ‘stick thin’ model mentality that’s so popular in modern media. Ah, a form of feminism for capital gains.

They are even aligning their brand by creating bespoke look-a-like dolls for influential women which are then being promoted through the UN Women’s Twitter account.

Mattel are broadcasting their acceptance of diversity and positive body imagery with a highly public and prominent PR awareness campaign. Would Mum’s around the world want to buy their child a more diverse doll to promote a healthy or different body image? Of course they will.

But don’t be fooled, this really is nothing more than clever public relations to ensure a brands survival with the additional benefit of reputation enhancement. It’s pretty impressive and powerful PR.

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Is Ken next?

P.S. If you want a giggle check out the popular ‘hipster Barbie’ instagram account – a parody of hipster insta accounts!

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Hipster Barbie has her own Instagram account!

Dismaland – the UK’s most disappointing new visitor attraction!

Dismaland – the UK’s most disappointing new visitor attraction!

Bravo Banksy, Bravo!

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Well he know’s how to make a point and generate a ton of PR for his art installation.

Dismaland plays on the Disnification of our society and the post-modern, consumerist generation.

The inability to buy tickets for his latest installation has set the social media sphere on fire. ‘I want tickets now’, ‘I NEED Dismaland tickets’ and ‘how on earth do I get a ticket to Dismaland?’ have rendered the internet truly dismal.

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The calendar which is actually a JPG!
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This is as far as I can get in the ticket buying process!

But you, probably like me, realised the hypocrisy of his ‘fight capitalism, buy a ticket to the show’ and as a result there are no tickets…the trolley logo remains upside down…empty.

I get the joke, I see the point being made.

I still click on it, I still press F5 and I have done, like a mad-woman, all day, since 6am. I have become all-consumed, the desire of wanting to see some real-life Banksy, not vandalised or removed by others is just too great despite knowing it will be fruitless.

If I know how ridiculous I am being you may ask… ‘Why are you still trying to purchase a ticket?’

For me, this is easy to answer. I want to see one of the greatest living artists of our time. One who brought a ‘criminal act’ in to popular culture as proper art, more so than any other graffiti artist. His clever takes on topical issues such as politics, migration, money, love, slavery, popular media and relationships say things that often people cannot. He’s travelled the world to do timely works in places like the Gaza Strip. He has almost retained complete anonymity (thanks Daily Mail for ruining that one by the way, for that I will never forgive you! For anyone not in the UK, one of our national papers went out of its way to uncover Banksy’s identity. Which, of course, I’m still furious about all these years later. Anyway, I digress…).

I would like to see Banksy’s new works, along those with the other artists he has involved. I missed his last show and although watching all these comments online are funny, ultimately what this masks are my feelings of disappointment. I am a long-standing Banksy fan. I am your stakeholder Banksy and I understand what you stand for, I get the big point you are making with the UK’s most disappointing bemusement park. But, at the same time, despite knowing this, I can’t stop my own personal disappointment, a feeling I probably share with many of your actual fans who’d like to see your new exhibit. If you don’t let the other kids play, where’s the fun in that? And other than thought provoking, it is meant to be fun, right?

The thought that I may miss another of your shows makes me think that the once accessible to all Banksy is not accessible anymore. You are not offering entry-level anarchism if no one can actually gaze upon your musings. If I am thinking this, is anyone else?

Now I, along with everyone else trying to obtain tickets have become the joke, I’d be careful how you play this one team Banksy because it could ultimately turn some of your real fans against you. (I doubt many but it’s a consideration, and we are looking at this from a PR point here!)

I understand the attraction will most likely be open on a first-come-first-serve basis in an attempt to further fuel demand and exclusivity, which in essence Banksy makes you a teenie, tiny bit like those capitalists and consumerists you mock, you are engaging in a PR and sales strategy that is as old as time. Supply and demand, just without the money element. Not that people aren’t willing to pay, fake prices on Ebay have been estimated at £3000 and people on Twitter have been offering to pay over the odds for the tickets which apparently are going to be £3 each.


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It’s a wonderful PR stunt, in line with the Banksy values, that has engaged such a large audience in such a short space of time, perhaps he shouldn’t let it go too far though. Banksy’s popularity is based on his talent, us ticket purchasers have learnt our lesson but we’d still like to see your art.

Despite all the rumours of a hoax, I’m going to risk it. So I am hovering with my bag packed ready for an early morning two hour pilgrimage to the arse end of the South West…Weston-super-Mare. Wish me luck fellow Banksy fans, will I be jilted at the Dismaland gate or will I be revelling in entry level anarchism? Watch this space…

Banksy