The Stanly News and Press (Albemarle, NC)

State & National News

February 12, 2014

Barbie to appear in SI swimsuit issue as toy brand struggles

Wednesday, February 12, 2014 — 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
State & National News
  • Why Facebook is getting into the banking game

    Who would want to use Facebook as a bank? That's the question that immediately arises from news that the social network intends to get into the electronic money business.

    April 15, 2014

  • E-Cigarettes target youth with festivals, lawmakers say

    WASHINGTON - The findings, in a survey released Monday by members of Congress, should prod U.S. regulators to curb the industry, the lawmakers said. While e-cigarettes currently are unregulated, the Food and Drug Administration is working on a plan that would extend its tobacco oversight to the products.

    April 15, 2014

  • Search teams will send unmanned sub to look for missing Malaysian airliner

    Teams searching for a missing Malaysian airliner are planning for the first time to send an unmanned submarine into the depths of the Indian Ocean to look for wreckage, an Australian official leading the multi-nation search said Monday.

    April 15, 2014

  • Millions of Android phones, tablets vulnerable to Heartbleed bug

    SAN FRANCISCO - Millions of smartphones and tablets running Google's Android operating system have the Heartbleed software bug, in a sign of how broadly the flaw extends beyond the Web and into consumer devices.

    April 13, 2014

  • DayCareCosts.jpg Day care's cost can exceed college tuition in some states

    Most parents will deal with an even larger kid-related expense long before college, and it's a cost that very few of them are as prepared for: day care.

    April 12, 2014 1 Photo

  • Stepping forward: The real Colbert

    Letterman changed the late-night TV game between his run on NBC's "Late Night" and starting the "Late Show" franchise in 1993. And while it's tough to replace a pop-culture icon, Colbert, in terms of pedigree and sense of humor, makes the most sense.

    April 12, 2014

  • Boston doctors can now prescribe you a bike

    The City of Boston this week is rolling out a new program that's whimsically known as "Prescribe-a-Bike." Part medicine, part welfare, the initiative allows doctors at Boston Medical Center to write "prescriptions" for low-income patients to get yearlong memberships to Hubway, the city's bike-share system, for only $5.

    April 12, 2014

  • Fast, cheap test can help save lives of many babies

    As Easley did more research into her daughter's death, she learned that a pilot program had started just months earlier at Holy Cross Hospital in Silver Spring, Md. (Easley had delivered at a different hospital in the Washington area.) The program's goal was to screen every newborn with a simple pulse oximeter test that can help detect heart problems such as Veronica's, allowing doctors to respond.

    April 10, 2014

  • 140407_GT_OUT_Forster_1.jpg Revolutionary War flag could fetch millions at auction

    MANCHESTER, MASS. - An iconic piece of history from the Revolutionary War is up for auction through Doyle New York, an auction and appraising company in New York City.

    April 10, 2014 1 Photo

  • 2012_Mazda6_--_NHTSA.jpg Brakes, steering and...spiders? What's behind the latest auto recalls

    11 million vehicles have already been recalled in 2014 for everything from power steering failure to vulnerability to spider attack.

    Check out the full list of 2014 recalls.

    April 10, 2014 1 Photo

House Ads
Seasonal Content