Sunday, February 27, 2011

The marketing behind Barbie & Ken rekindling love

Barbie and Ken met on the set of their first commercial in the spring of 1961. couple, they were an item through the’60s, ’70s, ’80s, and ’90s — with wardrobe, gadgets and makeovers to adapt to changing customer preferences.

Sales were steadily declining, so the people at Mattel (NASDAQ:MAT) came up with a clever plan – a on-off relationship. It started on Valentine’s Day 2004 when the couple announced that they were going to spend time apart. Barbie began dating Australian surfer Blaine. In 2006, Ken got himself several makeovers, but just remained friends with Barbie. Then the couple was cast in Toy Story 3.

Mattel listened to its customers. Lisa McKnight, vice president of marketing at Mattel, explained that people were really pushing for Ken & Barbie to get back together again.

We got a lot of formal petitions from brand fans, Barbie fan groups, asking for them to get back together. I think there was one group that sent in a three-page letter, expressing how they felt and how they never should have broken up in the first place and they’ve just got to be reunited. So there’s a lot of passion there. They really are the sort of ultimate ‘it’ couple. So everyone’s rooting for them to get back together.”

Mattel closely monitored customers’ reactions on the website Both Barbie and Ken also have their own Twitter accounts and Facebook pages and are active users. Fans could leave comments and also vote on if the Love-O-Meter if the couple should hook up again on Valentine’s Day 2011.

As part of the marketing strategy, Mattel launched a new product on 14/2: the Barbie and Ken Gift Set.

Mattel’s marketing strategy has already generated a lot of exposure in the main media. But what will be the deciding success factor is the bottom line – will sales of Barbie products increase….

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