Barbie?s arrival 50 years ago wasn?t just a product launch; it was part of, and a reflection of, a cultural change which saw young people assuming new significance and a new identity in the world.
Publish date:

Barbie’s arrival 50 years ago wasn’t just a product launch it was part of, and a reflection of, a cultural change which saw young people assuming new significance and a new identity in the world and created a new toy concept and play pattern for girls.

Barbie was created after Ruth and Elliot Handler founded Mattel Creations in 1945 and was born 14 years later and unveiled to the world at the New York Toy Fair.

The inspiration for the doll came from Ruth’s daughter Barbara, who acted out scenarios with her friends using paper dolls.

The first Barbie sold 300,000 in 1959 and 50 years later, after myriad changes of style and look, the brand is still going strong.

Which is why Mattel is partying like its 1959 and celebrating the 50th birthday of the fashion doll this year with a number of initiatives designed to highlight the past and present of the doll brand.

“The centrepoint of it all is the celebration of Barbie, not just her 50th birthday but the brand itself. It’s all about celebrating everything Barbie,” said Jackie Jordan, marketing director of Mattel.

“It’s based on what Barbie stands for - fashion, play and the empowerment of girls and women. Let’s look back but let’s also look forward.”

And with that vision in mind, messages about the anniversary are starting to appear in the media, and will eventually drip down to the brand’s core target group.

“The 50th gives us the chance to show the face of Barbie now and to show off our great partnerships. They all cascade down. So we can start with the brand and touch all our key audiences."

Activities are spread across a number of different, leading edge media including a fashion programme at London Fashion Week with Jeremy Scott creating a limited edition adult collection launching at Colette in Paris on March 9th.

Mattel is also sponsoring the autumn/winter 09/10 fashion shows by two of the capital’s most influential young female designers, Roksanda Ilincic and Danielle Scutt.

Both girls will design a wardrobe for a limited edition of 50 Barbie dolls inspired by their own collections.

A launch party will take place in Hamleys on March 8th – ‘a once in a lifetime experience for lucky Barbie fans’, apparently. There will also be a Barbie window, too.

On March 9th a new Barbie website will launch to chronicle all the celebrations for mums and girls up and down the country - a Barbie blog, essentially.

“We’ll also have a roadshow going up and down the country. We want girls to interact with Barbie alongside their parents and on their own too,” adds Jordan.

“We’re working with our retail partners to get them involved. We’ve got great P.O.P material and we want to spread it as far across the chain as we can.”

In the key Christmas period there will be the usual commitment to advertising and marketing for the celebratory range of pink products.


Featured Jobs