Does the Barbie brand represent modern feminine identity?
Like most multigenerational pop culture brands, the Barbie brand has evolved substantially over the years. As polarizing as the Beatles and Madonna in their times, Barbie will endure as long as she continues to take a stand on her core purpose: to deliver a fantasy experience to young girls based upon young girls' perceptions, hopes, and dreams of growing up.
Barbie's purpose is NOT to teach young girls what it means to become young women -- that is what parents and teachers and other role models do. Barbie is a vessel through which girls pretend, just as boys play with action figures trying to take over the earth. (Forgive the gender stereotyping.) Are these boys doomed to be villainous grown-ups? C'mon...
That said, Barbie's relevance is being challenged more and more as the way young girls play is rapidly evolving. Barbie's reach has to move further away from the toy box if she expects to appeal to girls over 6 years old. Time for a massive multiplayer online game...
Noah Manduke - March 2, 2009
Any product/organisation that has lasted 50 years is probably doing something right. But, Brandchannel, is this really the most pressing brand issue that you want people to comment upon, triggered by Women's History Month? Apart from the manufacturers of Barbie, who really cares if the doll is around for another 50 years?
Peter Bonnici - March 2, 2009
New York Fashion Week just concluded, and the one show that received the most buzz and celebrity action was the Barbie show. That it was the most talked about show was a huge mystery to me, I thought everyone 'knew' the Barbie designers wouldn't have anything new to say, and it was basically true - there was no innovation and no new style. It was discouraging to see this show get the lion's share of hype and coverage. Forgive me for posting a link, but a friend wrote about it from a fashion bloggers perspective here: http://www.poeticandchic.com/home/2009/2/16/barbie-bafflement.html
Randall - March 2, 2009
I'd like to offer a female perspective on this topic, since you men are understandably limited in your grasp of what Barbie means to girls, and to the women they grow up to be :)"Who really cares if the doll is around for another 50 years?" Girls do. Even grown-up ones, judging by the 73,000 fans Barbie's Facebook page has already attracted in its two weeks of existence. I'm not even talking about the thousands of hardcore Barbie Collectors out there who shell out hundreds of dollars per special edition doll. I'm talking about regular women who have fond memories of playing with Barbie as a girl--memories of innocence, beauty, fashion, creativity and independence. I think Mattel is wise to target women, rather than girls, with the Barbie's 50th campaign, because they understand better than anyone that Barbie isn't just a plastic doll but a cultural icon of fashion, girlhood and relevance through continued reinvention.
Alla Gonopolsky - March 2, 2009
Barbie can be a reflexion of what women have and will become: enterpreneurs and leaders with a vision of changing the world, bringing a much needed balance of feminine energy into the captalistic world. She transcends time!
Cheryl L. Hodgson, Owner, Hodgson Law Group - March 2, 2009