Empowering isn't the first word that comes to mind when you think of Barbie. That's especially been the case over the past decade, as consumers have voiced problems with the brand's representation of women. But Mattel is looking to change that in its first campaign from BBDO.
The two-minute spot below is the beginning of an "ongoing brand evolution that is designed to encourage parents to reappraise the role Barbie can play in [a] child's life," Evelyn Mazzocco, global svp and general manager of Barbie, tells Adweek.
"We want to remind the world what Barbie stands for. Founded by a female entrepreneur and mother in 1959, the Barbie brand has always represented the fact that women have choices," said Mazzocco. "This ongoing initiative is designed to remind today's parents that through the power of imagination, Barbie allows girls to explore their limitless potential."
The new spot communicates that in a fun, clever, uplifting way—by showing little girls acting as teachers and doctors and businesswomen in real-world environments. The girls are so excited, and you're excited for them. And the delightful narrative works well, leading to a surprise ending.
At that point, the viewer learns it's a Barbie ad. (BBDO San Francisco led the creative on this, in conjunction with BBDO New York.) And while the setup and payoff could work for any brand that tries to empower young girls—not just Barbie—it does makes sense for the brand in the larger picture.
While Barbie does have more competition than ever—Monster's High and American Girl have only gotten more popular—its real enemy doesn't seem to be other brands. Instead, the enemy is the perception of Barbie herself. So, job one is getting parents to re-evaluate how they see her.
"Sometimes adults use Barbie as a way to ignite a cultural conversation, but we have been and continue to be a brand for girls first," said Mazzocco.
By using what the brand sees as a modernized narrative, Barbie is hoping parents will see that purchasing a Barbie for their little girls (or boys?) isn't a bad thing to do.
Client: Barbie (Mattel)
Agency: BBDO San Francisco
Chief Creative Officer, Worldwide: David Lubars
Executive Creative Director: Matt Miller
Executive Creative Director: Steve Rutter
Sr. Copywriter: Adam Balogh
Sr. Art Director: Jason Moussalli
Executive Producer: Patti Bott
Senior Producer: Lisa Christman
Business Affairs: Danielle Ivicic
Managing Director: Marc Burns
Senior Account Director: Kim Fredkin
Management Supervisor: Nicole Dongara
Account Supervisor: Nicholas Roth
Director of Business Development: Crystal Rix
Senior Planner: Alaina Crystal
Production Company: Slim Pictures Inc.
Director: Karen Cunningham
Director of Photography: Jeff Cutter
Executive Producer: Tom Weissferdt
Line Producer: Suzie Greene Tedesco
Music House: De Wolfe Music
Andrew Know Music Productions
Edit / Visual Effects House: No6
Editor: Andrea MacArthur
Executive Producer: Crissy de Simone
Post Producer: Yole Barrera
Flame Artist: Verdi Sevenhuysen
Colorist: Bob Festa at Company 3