Totally Stylin’ Tattoos Barbie is the newest introduction to the Barbie brand product line up – I kid you not. Mattel claims the tattooed Barbie has been selling well, but the opposite seems to be true if you look at the online buzz. This month, online conversations have been all over the Internet with parents and consumers questioning the appropriateness of tattoos on a doll targeted to young girls. They do not believe Totally Stylin’ Tattoos Barbie is right for the Barbie brand. Mattel has responded by saying the company has no plans to change or discontinue the product.
What do you think? Does Mattel have a responsibility to develop products with the Barbie brand name that are all appropriate for the primary audience for the brand? Is it ethical to sell a Barbie-branded doll with totally stylin’ tattoos on it?
It’s an interesting argument. While I can certainly understand that Mattel is not promoting the tattooing of children with this toy, I can also understand parents who don’t want their impressionable children to get ideas that they want their own tattoos to look totally stylin’ like Barbie (I should mention that the tattoos that come with Totally Stylin’ Tattoos Barbie are temporary and can be applied on people, too, just like any temporary tattoo).
It’s an interesting brand debate – where the line of ethics and responsibility should be drawn. I’d imagine this argument probably arises for the Barbie brand with each generation. Decades ago, it probably happened when Doctor Barbie launched or when Astronaut Barbie hit stores. Remember several years ago when Barbie and Ken got divorced? The buzz was very loud about that. There was even a Saturday Night Live skit about it!
It reminds me of a year or two ago when Disney launched Disney-branded wine. A brand name associated primarily with children on liquor seemed wrong. Suffice it to say, Disney pulled that product from the market very quickly after its launch.
Regardless of how you feel about tattoos, what do you think about this debate from a branding perspective? Do brands have a responsibility to produce branded products that remain appropriate to the primary target audience?
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