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The Drum Digital Transformation Festival launch

Gordon Young
Editor-in-chief at The Drum

BBDO San Francisco wraps 2016 with ‘You Can Be Anything’ Barbie campaign; teases 2017 additions

BBDO San Francisco wraps 2016 with ‘You Can Be Anything’ Barbie campaign; teases 2017 additions

“My whole philosophy of Barbie was that through the doll, the little girl could be anything she wanted to be. Barbie always represented the fact that a woman has choices,” said Ruth Handler, the founder of Barbie.

That quote from Handler “was the unlock moment for us,” said Matt Miller, executive creative director, BBDO San Francisco. “That’s what gave Barbie the purpose. … When we put that against how girls really play with the dolls, we realized that was the reality. That was the truth.”

The 'You Can Be Anything' video starts off with, “What happens when girls are free to imagine they can be anything?” and then fades into young girls being professionals. From being a professor, veterinarian, soccer coach, a business woman to a museum tour guide, the young girls show off their talents while the adults go along with the whole thing.

“When girls play with Barbie, they have choices. And that’s what led to when girls play with Barbie, they imagine everything that they can become,” Miller said. “Barbie, the brand, knew that society and culture did not understand who Barbie really was or the good that Barbie really did. They watch girls play with the doll. They have seen how it is influential to them. There was this frustration, I think, to help … tell the real Barbie story.”

The relationship between BBDO and Mattel started with an assignment around Barbie. With that assignment, a longer-term relationship was formed and BBDO was named Mattel’s Agency of Record.

In terms of more from the 'You Can Be Anything' campaign, Miller teased that, “You will [see more from it], we are finishing some stuff now … and it’s very exciting. We like it quite a bit.”

Mattel has been working to diversify the Barbie brand. With the release of 78 different Barbie dolls in 2015 and an Abby Wambach version in 2016, the brand is working to bring Barbie into the 21st century. In an effort to combat falling sales, Mattel also created the “Hello Barbie” brand to bring Barbie dolls into the 21st century using a Wi-Fi connection.

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