Glasgow Daily Times, Glasgow, KY

Community News Network

February 12, 2014

Barbie to appear in SI swimsuit issue as toy brand struggles

NEW YORK — Putting Barbie in Sports Illustrated's annual swimsuit issue is Mattel Inc.'s latest attempt to generate conversation about the 11.5-inch icon and reverse falling Barbie brand sales.

Mattel said Tuesday that Barbie, 54, will join the ranks of Tyra Banks, Christie Brinkley and Rachel Hunter in the magazine's 50th anniversary swimsuit issue, which goes on sale Feb. 18. Barbie will appear in a version of the black-and-white bathing suit she wore on her 1959 debut, the company said. The Time Inc. magazine and toymaker also rolled out an advertising campaign with the tagline "unapologetic."

Within hours of the announcement, a debate was raging on the Web and television. While some saw no controversy, others said the swimsuit issue demeans women and Barbie's unrealistic proportions send an unhealthy message to young girls.

"What year are we?" Sallie Krawcheck, the former Bank of America and Citigroup executive, said in an interview on Bloomberg Television. "It is a terrible message for young ladies. Appearance, we wish it didn't matter for women and men, but there is looking groomed and put together and there is having a look that no one in this entire world can ever attain. The airbrushing is ridiculous that goes on. Barbie's message should be strong, resourceful, that you work hard and you achieve something, not because of your looks."

The Barbie brand is struggling amid the growing popularity of Mattel's other top doll brands, Monster High, Disney Princess and American Girl. Last year, sales of girls brands excluding Barbie surged 25 percent. Meanwhile Barbie declined 6 percent. Global revenue from Barbie fell 13 percent in Mattel's most quarter, when the El Segundo, Calif.-based company posted revenue that trailed analysts' estimates.

The partnership with Sports Illustrated encourages women to be who they are, Michelle Chidoni, a Mattel spokeswoman, said in an emailed statement.

"As a legend herself, Barbie has always been a lightning rod for controversy and opinions," Chidoni said. "Posing in Sports Illustrated gives Barbie and her fellow legends an opportunity to own who they are, celebrate what they have accomplished and show the world it's ok to be attractive AND successful - in a word, #unapologetic."

Laura Ries, president of marketing strategy firm Ries & Ries in Roswell, Ga., said Mattel has skilfully generated media buzz for the brand that could stir nostalgia among adults and help lift the brand.

"It's a solid move," she said in a telephone interview. "It's not just a crazy ad in Maxim. If she was shown in a midriff and black eyeliner under her eyes, that would have been distasteful and gotten a lot more PR. Look what Miley Cyrus has accomplished going down that road. It is tastefully done."

Mattel began a concerted effort to make Barbie part of the cultural conversation again on Valentine's Day in 2011, when the company announced she was getting back together with Ken after "the breakup of the millennium." To make Ken more appealing to Barbie - and potential buyers - Mattel gave him a Justin Bieber-like haircut. The company also allowed the makers of Toy Story 3 to cast Ken as himself, having previously refused to allow the doll to participate.

 "We gave people permission to play with our brand, to have fun," in the hope that it would become culturally relevant again, Richard Dickson, then brand president, said at the time.



 

1
Text Only
Community News Network
  • Affirmative action ruling challenges colleges seeking diversity

    The U.S. Supreme Court's support of Michigan's ban on race-based affirmative action in university admissions may spur colleges to find new ways to achieve diversity without using racial preferences.

    April 23, 2014

  • A 'wearable robot' helps her walk again

    Science is about facts, numbers, laws and formulas. To be really good at it, you need to spend a lot of time in school. But science is also about something more: dreaming big and helping people.

    April 23, 2014

  • Cuba is running out of condoms

    The newest item on Cuba's list of dwindling commodities is condoms, which are now reportedly in short supply. In response, the Cuban government has approved the sale of expired condoms.

    April 23, 2014

  • The waffle taco's biggest enemy isn't McDonald's. It's consumer habits.

    Gesturing to Taco Bell, Thompson said McDonald's had "not seen an impact relative to the most recent competitor that entered the [breakfast] space," and that new competition would only make McDonald's pursue breakfast more aggressively.

    April 23, 2014

  • Screen Shot 2014-04-22 at 4.42.47 PM.png VIDEO: Leopard attacks crowd in India

    A leopard caused panic in the city of Chandrapur when it sprung from the roof of a house and charged at rescue workers.

    April 22, 2014 1 Photo

  • The top 12 government programs ever

    Which federal programs and policies succeed in being cost-effective and targeting those who need them most? These two tests are obvious: After all, why would we spend taxpayers' money on a program that isn't worth what it costs or helps those who do not need help?

    April 22, 2014

  • In cuffs... 'Warlock' in West Virginia accused of sexual assault

    Police in West Virginia say a man claiming to be a “warlock” used promises of magical spells to lure children into committing sexual acts with him.

    April 22, 2014 1 Photo

  • Cats outsmart the researchers

    I knew a lot had been written about dogs, and I assumed there must be at least a handful of studies on cats. But after weeks of scouring the scientific world for someone - anyone - who studied how cats think, all I was left with was this statement, laughed over the phone to me by one of the world's top animal cognition experts, a Hungarian scientist named Ádám Miklósi.

    April 22, 2014

  • McCain 1 House Republicans are more active on Twitter than Democrats

    Your representative in the House is almost certainly on Twitter. Your senator definitely is. But how are they using the social network? Are Democrats more active than Republicans, or vice versa? Who has the most followers on the Hill?

    April 22, 2014 1 Photo

  • Do your genes make you procrastinate?

    Procrastinators, in my experience, like nothing better than explaining away their procrastination: General busyness, fear of failure, and simple laziness are just a handful of the excuses and theories often tossed around. Now researchers from the University of Colorado Boulder have added another option to the list: genetics.

    April 21, 2014

AP Video
Facebook
Hyperlocal Search
Premier Guide
Find a business

Walking Fingers
Maps, Menus, Store hours, Coupons, and more...
Premier Guide
Seasonal Content