With campaigns around empathy, representation, and the dream gap, Barbie is trying to create inclusive narratives on social media, one post at a time.
To make the world a better place, efforts have to be put in to ensure the well-being of children. They need to be nurtured and taught values that would help them grow into better adults. To this extent, a lot can happen over toys. Barbie has been evolving with time, addressing various much-needed conversations around race, diversity, and the need for empowerment. They are trying to close gaps and help kids find the tools they need to give wings to their creativity. As much of the communication Barbie puts up on social media is targeted towards young girls, attempts are continuously being made to empower them in ways that can help them cut across age-old stereotypes.
In 1962, Barbie released its first Dreamhouse and in 1965, the first Astronaut Barbie was launched. In the years that followed, celebrity dolls came into being and a special focus was put on ensuring racial diversity in the products that were being put on the market. In 1985, CEO Barbie was launched, followed by a campaign, ‘We girls can do anything.’ Through 2015 and 2018, the focus on role models was strengthened with the help of multiple campaigns and social media posts.
Empathy & Neuroscience
Since October 2020, Barbie has been amplifying its work with neuroscientists on how playing with dolls can help develop empathy in children — how a doll can help change the world. Recently, a new video was launched as part of the campaign where a diverse range of products can be seen. The campaign comes at a time when the world is grappling under the pressures of the pandemic. A ray of sunshine through the gloom — for kids across the globe.
The Dream Gap
Since the beginning, Barbie has been a strong advocate of the belief that young girls can be whoever they wish to be. They have created multiple collections over the years to help extend the scope of the conversation with tangible products. #CloseTheDreamGap was a campaign created to this effect. It depicted how self-limiting beliefs start to develop at the age of five and that’s when girls need the most support in order to keep dreaming bigger.
Sheroes & Representation
In 2015, Barbie began its Sheroes campaign with a focus on female role models that help girls visualise possibilities. The communication first featured Ava DuVernay, Emmy Rossum, Eva Chen, Kristin Chenoweth, Sydney “Mayhem” Keiser, and Trisha Yearwood — and they each got their own Barbies. Since then, several women icons, including journalists and sportspersons have been added to the campaign’s fold.
Focus on Diversity: The Barbie Social Media Strategy
Last year was a year of change for brands. They looked at their communication and products to assess how and where they were going wrong with racial diversity. It led to the acknowledgment of issues that needed attention — and some changes. For Barbie, it translated into the amplification of stories of women who broke barriers. With the help of a Barbie in a wheelchair, intersectionality was also addressed during the #BlackHistoryMonth.
On social media, Barbie’s influencer journey began in 2014 with the @barbiestyle Instagram account. It continues to celebrate pop culture moments that are relevant in her world and the worlds of her fans. Since 2015, Barbie’s YouTube channel is being used to talk directly to girls about the issues they face — with the help of Vlogger Barbie.
These were some pivotal moments in the marketing history of Barbie which has concentrated its efforts to tell young girls that they can be whoever they want to be. These efforts continue to date and are expected to stay put for years to come.