Mattel Wins Praise for Having a Boy in This Barbie Ad, but There’s More to the Story

Moschino Barbie's lauded spot is a 'fauxmercial'

The Moschino Barbie, a collector's edition Barbie doll featuring clothes designed by the  Moschino fashion label, is already sold out. But that didn't stop Moschino and Mattel from making an ad with—prepare to be shocked—a BOY in it! And he's playing with a doll! And he has an unflattering mohawk!

This came as a great surprise to the media, which has been praising Mattel as a result for breaking down gender norms in doll advertising. There's just one small problem with that narrative: Mattel didn't lead the creative on this one; Moschino did.

In fact, Moschino creative director Jeremy Scott led the creative personally. The boy is meant to be a version of his own childhood self. And Moschino and Mattel both told the BBC that the ad is more of a "fauxmercial" than a real commercial.

"When I dreamt up the concept for the Moschino Barbie fauxmercial, I felt it was natural to have a little boy representing for all the little boys like myself who played with Barbies growing up," Scott says. "Barbie was more than a toy, she was a muse for me."

"This video parodies iconic Barbie commercials from the 1980's starring a young Jeremy Scott look alike," Mattel adds. "The video celebrates how boys and girls alike play with Barbie—it's all about self-expression, fashion, imagination and storytelling."

So, interesting spot—but it's being called a parody, and wasn't actually made by Mattel. Perhaps not as groundbreaking as reported. And as for the doll itself, isn't it just Malibu Stacy with a new hat?