Realistic Representation: Why Mattel makes good with improved Barbie

Mattel is one of two main toy manufacturers (the other being Hasbro) that is experiencing newfound success with a brand of toy that has been around for years.

For the longest time, Barbie was the one element of Mattel that made this toy company relevant. Barbie was a blonde bombshell that every girl wanted to be like and have as an at home toy. That mentality didn’t change much over the years, but more discussion about body image and how that “perfect” image of Barbie actually had been doing more harm then good and essentially alienating some of the key demographics that would be purchasing a Barbie doll.

In addition, Barbie and the brand of dolls also opened up its marketing window to include boys in television commercials, a representation that the entire toy biz is embracing: there are no girls and boys toys but just “toys” in the purest sense.

Barbie has broken through for Mattel and has the toy company signing the praises of a new generation of not only Barbie dolls but those who are buying them as well. The latest numbers for the Barbie brand show that the toy is up more than 20 percent in sales thanks to not only trying to advertise to the masses but also promote a Barbie doll that isn’t the ideal body type but rather one that is varying in shape and size, a calculated move that was predicated on the changing landscape of how children and young adults view themselves.

In addition to changing the body type of the Barbie doll, Mattel hasn’t ignored the overall perception of Barbie as it relates to her going from a character who rides around in her convertible, shops and lounges by the pool to one that is career oriented and empowered to the point that she’s being shopped around as the Barbie of a new generation, one that can achieve anything.

While that movement by Mattel, for some, might sound a little over the top, the truth is it is long overdue. Yes, Barbie is just a doll; she’s just a toy, and perhaps we’re reading too much into it on that level.

But Mattel is viewing this more as an initiative that goes beyond plastic toys and retail sales. They’re selling a mentality, an ideology and a rebirth of what it means to be a female in the modern day. That specifically is what has led to Mattel and the recent upswing in sales.

Granted, the toy business is just that: a business. But Mattel took it on by viewing an increase in sales directly related to changing the core of its top seller.

Now, Barbie is better than ever as a result.


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