Barbie turns 50!

By Ruhee Dhar

Barbara ‘Barbie’ Millicent Roberts has come a long way…she still looks beautiful and elegant. I got my first Barbie when I was 10 and still have it in my collection of dolls! I believe Barbie is the most popular doll of all-time and has been favourite with almost all the girls. Over the years, Barbie has taken up many roles that of an astronaut, doctor, teacher, police officer, UNICEF volunteer, and athlete. She has represented several countries of the world promoting diversity and tolerance.

If ever there is a contest in cult brand category, then Barbie Dolls would surely vie for top spot. The iconic brand has turned 50 this month, and seems to be more popular than ever, even in this age of internet and despite the emergence of countless new high-tech toys, games and gadgets. Barbie still rules the hearts of millions of collectors – both young and old enjoy time spent and memories made with their dolls. What is the appeal behind timeless aura of this sleek doll? Following thoughts have come to my mind.

Merchandising – The whole furniture set, accessories, games have promoted the brand too well. Barbie’s fashionable wardrobe and accessories has always been a key feature of the Barbie dolls. The stylish and trendy outfits of Barbie have been designed by some of the world famous designers such as Oscar de la Renta, YSL, Chrisitan Dior, Valentino, Perry Ellis, Bob Mackie, Givenchy, Versace, Dolce & Gabana, Vera Wang & Gucci.

Timelessness – The quality of Barbie dolls along with constant changes – there’s a doll of every hair color, nationality, and ethnic background, have metamorphosised Barbie from a wannabe to a mega star.

Universality – There’s a Barbie for everyone. She has undertaken makeover with aplomb. So while, its Blonde, African-American, Middle East or India, Barbie has managed same response everywhere.

Relatable – The fairytale romance of every girl comes alive with the Barbie family- Ken, the boyfriend, has stayed hand in hand with Barbie for years. Along with him, Barbie has her entire family (cousins, nieces and whatnot) sharing the pretty pink box she comes in.

Marketing Strategy – One of the first toys to have an extensive and innovative television ad campaigns that caught attention of girls across countries.

What do you think?

  1. Zeph
    January 11, 2010 at 5:56 pm

    I wonder where all my Barbies are now… and more importantly, where their heads are… This article reminded me of days spent pulling off the doll’s head just to figure out how it swivelled. And then sending the head up and down in the lift… Think we ruined 13 dolls in all, between my sis and me… awesomeness….

  2. March 20, 2009 at 8:27 pm

    Happy 50th Birthday Barbie! (but who’s counting?)

  3. Amit G
    March 17, 2009 at 9:59 am

    The article is well written and puts forth a women’s (read girl’s:)) standpoint with all sincerity. It is a different matter that I never owned a Barbie and had issues with the skeletal doll inspiring a large number of girls to look underfed and me the article brings to mind elapsed memories of childhood when guns and toys of heroic fictional character he-man were a rage..:)

  4. Zonkers
    March 13, 2009 at 3:14 pm

  5. Manish
    March 13, 2009 at 3:09 pm

    I think Barbie is a perfect example of creative manipulation of mindset to bring a connect between a consumer and a product. Barbie makers positioned the product as a friend rather than a toy. The fact that Barbie makers kept on engaging its consumers at different levels help in bringing desired changes in the behaviour of girls who kept on getting more fond of this friend!

  6. Yasser
    March 12, 2009 at 10:01 pm

    Hi Barbie!
    Hi Ken!
    Do you wanna go for a ride?
    Sure Ken!
    Jump In!

    I’m a barbie girl, in a barbie world.
    Life in plastic, it’s fantastic!
    You can brush my hair, undress me everywhere,
    Imagination, life is your creation!
    Come on Barbie, let’s go party!

    As rightly said by AQUA -Barbie is every girls best friend!!

  7. frenny
    March 12, 2009 at 4:59 pm

    I believe there is a connect between girls and the Barbie doll , i am sure most of us still remember how we spent long hours sharing secrets with Barbie. But some must agree that our second lesson in creativity came from Barbie. Do you remember how we decorated her house, spent ample of hours fixing her hair, matching her dresses and then matching shoes etc etc. This pretty doll is a must have for every kid, i meant girls.

  8. Rohit
    March 12, 2009 at 4:46 pm

    You know in 2004, Barbie makers announced the breakup of Barbie and Ken calling it “another celebrity breakup”. In 2006, re-launched new and improved Ken with striking features and speculated re-entry of love in Barbie’s life. And on Valentines day of 2009, on her typepad blog, Barbie announced the official reunion of the couple! Rather than a fairytale it sounds more of a publicity-romance!

  9. Manak
    March 12, 2009 at 2:19 pm

    I remember wanting the huge gadget included doll house to know how the lift worked!! Everyone wanted that house i guess.. and every girl wanted to be barbie and i guess every guy was supposed to want to be ken.. or at least a girlfriend like barbie… but if barbie were a real person.. with her proportions she’d be 7 feet tall.. thats quite a tall order for little girls to be aspiring for !

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