I don’t know if the soon-to-be-released Barbie movie is going to be any good, but I have to give compliments to whoever is running the PR campaign for it. I have never seen anything like it. I am inundated every time I turn around.
HGTV has a “Barbie House special.” Bloomberg has the entire cover in pink. The Times and the Washington Post, NY Post (among others) have Barbie stories almost every day of one flavor or another, CBS Sunday Morning has done two segments, and every retailer has Barbie in the aisles with bicycles, lunchboxes, sunglasses, nail polish, T-shirts, rugs, mugs, roller skates, dog hats at PetSmart and a clothing line at the Gap - to name a few. Progressive Insurance has a tie in TV commercial, as does one of the burger joints. And, of course, there are the “coming attractions” in theaters and stand-alone TV spots for the movie. Whew!
This is interesting to me not because of Barbie’s impossible figure or because it’s a resuscitation of a fading doll line, but because a new CEO has envisioned the launch of an entire IP franchise with other Mattel products, which include Hot Wheels, Barney the Dinosaur, Masters of the Universe play figures, American Girl dolls, Matchbox toys, Thomas the Train and other pre-school playthings from the Fisher-Price subsidiary, and - and I am not kidding - a Magic 8-ball movie in development. Will it work? I dunno, but he’s already taken a near moribund toy company to relevance, doubling the share price since he arrived (2017), and this “franchise reset” augurs to re-establish Mattel as king of the pile, a pretty heroic feat given that they’ve been coasting for almost two decades.
I’ve watched as Lucas developed an entire world around one piece of IP: StarWars, and Marvel did the same around a comic book line (even more difficult since they had given away the IP rights to their best characters). Now Mattel finds buried treasure in the attic and is making a run at relevance (which, I am told, is by letting the movie mock Barbie , a big pill for the gatekeepers to swallow).
Personally, I’m going to see “Oppenheimer” which opens the same day, but if the reviews on the pink princess are good I might even pop for a ticket to that one. Not likely to be buying a doll or anything else in pink, but I’m marveling at how they’ve conjured economic gold nearly out of thin air.