Barbie & Ken Rekindle…online


They are the Ross and Rachel of toys. Will they or won’t they? Their indecision has plagued us for years…and the intrigue has just gotten even more compelling.

Many might recall that back in 2004, Barbie and Ken, the idyllic couple of our childhood imaginations, decided to take a bit of a romantic break. Perhaps these two ‘plastic celebrities’ decided they each wanted to spend just a bit more time on one of their numerous careers (i.e. rocket scientist, professional dancer, veterinarian). Whatever the reasoning, Mattel, Inc. split the two up.

And now, on the eve of Ken’s 50th birthday (wow, he looks good for his age– think he had some work done? plastic surgery maybe? sorry lame joke), Mattel has launched a digital marketing campaign of epic proportions in an attempt to reunite the two lovelorn dolls.

A jack-of-all-trades, Ken’s next greatest challenge is to win back his true love. Since the break up, Ken has been undergoing an image overhaul. Now he’s ready to show his new self off, and he’s using the power of social networking to do so. Consumers are encouraged to check out Ken’s profiles, as well as the hub site barbieandken.com. You can even vote in an online poll asking, “Should Barbie Take Ken Back?” Leaving no viral stone unturned, other social marketing sites being utilized include Facebook, twitter, foursquare, and YouTube. Fans can follow the love story as it unfolds, with both of the dolls actively engaging in socializing through these sites. Ken has been known to tweet anything from nostalgic memories about times with Barbie to his favorite articles in contemporary mens’ magazines.

So why the campaign, and why now? Well, besides the obvious excitement over Ken’s birth-aversary (that’s birthday and anniversary combined), the release of the latest Ken doll is also causing quite a stir. The new “Sweet Talking Ken” doll  is described as being “the ultimate boyfriend for every occasion,” praising his ability to say “whatever your want him to say!” Certainly sounds good.

Also in the works, in attempt to gain further notice, Mattel has started a web series called “Genuine Ken.” The series, hosted by Hulu,  is looking for the literal equivalent of the toy company’s newest Ken doll. The contestants all compete for the title of “The Great American Boyfriend.”

Another clever scheme is the product incorporation within the campaign. Ken be seen promoting any number of products. For instance, he uses a Macbook while browsing Google Chrome.

All in all, the concept seems pretty great. The famous dolls’ relationship spans generations, and by using the internet, the company has successfully targeted the modern youth. What do you think? And more especially, should Barbie take Ken back?

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