Y&R Gets More of Ogilvy’s Barbie

The New York Shop Beat Its West Coast Roster Rival in a Review
LOS ANGELES–Young & Rubicam has won consolidated ad duties for all of Mattel’s Barbie-related software titles, a piece of business worth as much as $20 million, sources said.
The win for the agency’s New York office came after a shootout with Mattel roster shop Ogilvy & Mather, Los Angeles, and further erodes Ogilvy’s hold on the Barbie brand.
Already, Y&R is ramping up its creative development and soliciting bids from production companies, according to sources. Account management is expected to be handled by Kim Corrigan, executive vice president and managing director on the agency’s Mattel business (Barbie, Fisher-Price and Sesame Street), sources said.
Y&R declined comment.
Ogilvy still handles the lion’s share of Barbie advertising and a Mattel representative said last month that the agency is solid as one of the toymaker’s three roster shops. Earlier this year, El Segundo, Calif.-based Mattel handed ad duties for Generation Girl–a new line of dolls for girls ages 8 to 12 that are marketed as Barbie’s friends–to Y&R [Adweek, June 14].
Ogilvy declined to comment; the client did not return calls.
The Barbie software review had been going on for several months [Adweek, Aug. 30].
Traditionally, Mattel has kept its agency assignments rigid, with Y&R handling its Fisher-Price and Sesame Street brands (including Elmo software) and Foote, Cone & Belding, Los Angeles, handling boys’ toys and related software. In the face of sluggish sales, however, the company is looking to utilize its resources better, said a source. The toymaker is counting on its flagship Barbie products to rejuvenate sales growth.
Beefing up marketing behind Barbie software titles, including the popular Barbie Fashion Designer CD-ROM, seems to fit into a strategy aimed at broadening the appeal of its bestselling doll, which girls are said to be abandoning at earlier ages than they used to.
Compared to the $20 million estimated current budget for the consolidated Barbie software account, Mattel spent just $8 million of its $246 million advertising budget last year on all its computer games and software, per Competitive Media Reporting. One reason for the increase: The number of software titles in Mattel’s media division, which was launched in 1996, has grown from eight to 30 in the past year, said a company representative.