Corporate Eye

Creative Brand Promotions – Barbie at NY Fashion Week

barbieBarbie is an iconic brand, and the Barbie doll will hit 50-years of age on March 9, 2009.  To celebrate the half-century mark, Mattel is thinking out-of-the box.  This weekend, Barbie will walk the runway at New York City’s Fashion Week in designs created by 50 of the top designers in the world, including well-known names like Tommy Hilfiger, Diane von Furstenberg, and Betsey Johnson.

Barbie is one of those brands that has become an icon.  The brand has been at the center of controversy while being adored by loyal consumers generation after generation.  In the U.S., the name “Barbie” has become a generic substitute for all similar dolls in the same way that Kleenex has become a generic name for tissues. 

The Barbie brand has had its ups and downs over the years, but lately, it’s been back on the rise.  After winning a lawsuit against the manufacturers of Bratz dolls last year that basically mitigates one of the brand’s main competitive threats, Barbie is on track to monopolize its market again.   

Just when Barbie could be getting old and tired, Mattel decides to get creative.  How well will Barbie do next to the runway models at New York City’s Fashion Week?  That remains to be seen, but you can bet on one thing – there will be a lot of publicity around the event.  In fact, the publicity will live longer, because the 50 designs will be displayed after the runway show at Bloomingdale’s in New York City.  While the originals won’t be for sale, I’d imagine Mattel will find some way to monetize the effort.

So what’s the lesson to learn from Barbie’s runway debut?  Don’t be afraid to get creative with your brand promotions.  Barbie might be a toy brand, but there is no reason why all brands can’t think out-of-the-box and have some fun.  It just might be the best way to stand out from the crowd. 

What do you think?

Image: Flickr

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Susan Gunelius is the author of 10 marketing, social media, branding, copywriting, and technology books, and she is President & CEO of KeySplash Creative, Inc., a marketing communications company. She also owns Women on Business, an award-wining blog for business women. She is a featured columnist for and, and her marketing-related articles have appeared on websites such as,,, and more. She has over 20 years of experience in the marketing field having spent the first decade of her career directing marketing programs for some of the largest companies in the world, including divisions of AT&T and HSBC. Today, her clients include large and small companies around the world and household brands like Citigroup, Cox Communications, Intuit, and more. Susan is frequently interviewed about marketing and branding by television, radio, print, and online media organizations, and she speaks about these topics at events around the world. You can connect with her on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, or Google+.