Barbie, the doll beloved by boomers and still on toy-store shelves after more than 50 years, is getting a needed makeover. Despite her high fashion forays, and several museum displays devoted to her fashionista variations, Barbie has been criticized for her unrealistic, ultrathin body type and shaped feet that fit only in high heels.
Facing increased competition from many other dolls, sales of Barbie dolls dropped 20% from 2012 to 2014, prompting parent company Mattel to add new diverse product variations for 2015 (a wider range of skin tones and hair styles).
In 2016, Mattel has introduced even more faces and shapes to update the Barbie product line. Barbie now is short or willowy, slim or curvy, to appeal to a wider target market and better reflect the diversity of the toy buying public.
Some of Mattel's Barbie ads in the past year have emphasized the aspirations of girls, aiming to associate the brand with dreams of career possibilities. Other ads focused on fashion and expressing individuality. Will Barbie's latest marketing makeover reverse the sales slide?