Barbie Gets a Makeover, Becomes the Toy Industry’s Story of the Year


I remember sitting feverishly under the Christmas tree, counting how many rectangular boxes lay beneath it. Barbie, for sure. That one’s a Barbie, and that one – definitely that one. And tearing open the packages to reveal which my parents chose for me. There were an endless amount of iterations, but there was one common thread that couldn’t be ignored: her beauty.

Since 1959, Barbie hasn’t aged a bit. Longstanding beauty icon, she stood tall, thin and blonde for more than fifty years. But it wasn’t until this year following a two-year dip in sales and the loss of the Disney Princess and Frozen license that Mattel, the doll’s creators, decided to adapt to a progressive and diverse generation of American children.

Gone are the days of Barbie perpetuating stereotypical female careers and behaviour. (Remember Sports Illustrated Barbie, Barbie Video Girl, and Oreo Barbie?) Mattel has released the newest line of dolls, which have expanded to include three different body types; curvy, petite, and tall, and seven different skin tones to choose from.

“The entire Mattel organization took on the challenge to reset this storied brand and have made tremendous strides in a very short period of time,” says Richard Dickson, Co-president of Mattel.

The new Barbie has been selling out in stores since. Brand sales rose 23% in the last quarter, confirming what every little girl (and their parents) want: toys that children can relate to and feel empowered by.

“The strength of the Barbie brand is its renewed positioning, the additional marketing and merchandising and execution that we’ve done to get that brand to be more culturally relevant,” Dickson said. “We’re feeling confident.”

*Images by AP & PRWeek