Mattel launches new ad campaign for Barbie

Mattel’s ad campaign uses a social experiment to show parents how important the power of play is


The campaign is in line with the company’s strategy to woo parents who are increasingly leaning towards toys.
The campaign is in line with the company’s strategy to woo parents who are increasingly leaning towards toys.

Mumbai: It may look like a doll in a box, but the possibilities are endless. That’s the thought that Mattel India would like parents to consider through its new advertising video, titled The Power of Play with Barbie, launched on Tuesday morning (https://youtu.be/j8qupuxwKJU ) on digital media.

In line with its award-winning, global “Imagine the Possibilities” campaign (https://youtu.be/l1vnsqbnAkk), which was kicked off last year, the latest digital campaign was created by the BBDO Asia Pacific region team in Hong Kong. It uses a social experiment to show parents how important the power of play is. The campaign was launched across markets in the Asia-Pacific region, including in India.

To be sure, the campaign is in line with the company’s strategy to woo parents who are increasingly leaning towards toys that have more value to offer, both in terms of play as well as learning.

“With this campaign we wanted to build an emotional connection with Asian parents by introducing them to the wonderful benefits of imaginative play and storytelling with Barbie to promote confidence and curiosity, said Andrea Vitali, director, marketing (APAC), Mattel in a statement. “Building on the global success of the Cannes Lion awarded global campaign ‘Imagine the Possibilities’, we worked with BBDO Asia to develop an engaging video that we hope will connect with moms while communicating the values of our brand.”

This is also one of the many measured moves by the company to distance itself from criticism that the doll perpetuates stereotypes about women. In April, the brand launched a range of Barbie dolls, which were available not just in multi-racial options, but also in body positive variants, including tall, short, curvy and normal.

According to industry estimates, the size of India’s toys industry is pegged at $1.2 billion (about Rs8,000 crore) and growing at 20% year-on-year. Of this, 75% of the market, or $900 million, is in the unorganized sector. Organized retail forms the other 25% or $300 million. Of the toy market, dolls as a category has been on the decline in India, as little girls and their parents increasingly opt for toys which encourage role-play and offer higher play value, said Karandeep Singh, business head, Hamleys India. “There is a decline in the sale of dolls per se. While there is no strong resistance from parents if a child wants to buy a doll, they are encouraging their child to pick something else, preferably something that will entertain as well as educate,” he said.

Mattel India, on its part has been trying to address this concern by promoting Barbie variants which offer more scope for role-play, as a vet, a politician or even a soccer player, for example, said Lokesh Kataria, marketing head, Mattel India Pvt. Ltd. They also have variants which have a high element of involvement through art and craft, where you can decorate the doll’s clothes, colour her hair, etc. “The whole strategy is to move away from the perception that Barbie is just a doll. This new campaign aims to re-position the doll as a toy, which will really fire up the child’s imagination, and help them consider the endless possibilities, of who they could be,” he said.

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