Barbie is trying to inspire girls to believe that “you can be anything”

Posted on 1 CommentPosted in Beloved Brands in the Market

Barbie faced major declines

Barbie has been heavily criticized over the last few decades for projecting an unrealistic image for girls. Launched in 1959, Barbie was the blonde all-American dream, but a complete fiction that many believe to be doing more damage of the self confidence of girls. The modern Moms didn’t want their daughters playing with Barbie anymore. All of a sudden, Barbie sales declined 20% in 2012 to 2014. The brand needed to make a dramatic change.

Barbie took a dramatic step forward–even if just to catch up to where they should be–by launching new possibilities with realistic options for body type (curvy, tall and petite) and various ethnicities (seven skin tones) They needed to create a Barbie that Moms would think acceptable for their girls to play with. These moms wanted a good symbol for their daughters, not something unrealistic and unattainable. The new Barbie is a good first step.




Next, the supporting Advertising for Barbie has gone viral with over 20 Million views. The ad starts by showing a young girls in situation as a College Professor, a Museum curator, a Veterinarian or a Soccer coach.  The supporting copy: “When a girl plays with Barbie, she imagines everything she can become.” with a bold tag-line:  YOU CAN BE ANYTHING. This is a great ad with a new message that should fit with the modern moms.


Barbie sales are up 8% this past holiday period, a good start to the turnaround. 

Here are five lessons for Brand Turnarounds

  1. Ensure the right people in place: Before even creating the plan, you need to get the right leadership talent in place. Talent, motivation, alignment. Mattel brought in new CEO last spring who reshuffled a lot of the executives in an effort to turn the business around.
  2. Look to close leaks on the Brand: Use brand funnel to assess, using leaky bucket tool to close leaks. Find out where the specific problems are coming from. Barbie has done a nice job in listening to their consumers, the moms who were rejecting the brand due to stereotypes.
  3. Cut the fat, re-invest: go through every investment decision, invest only in programs that give you an early break through win. Even faced with Sales declines, Mattel made a smart move to cut costs by 10% to drive profits back into the business. It is hard to do a turnaround while the profit keeps falling.
  4. 3-stage plan: In stage 1, find early/obvious win, halts slide, helps motivation. In stage 2, invest behind new positioning/new plan, focused decisions, take risks. In stage 3, make adjustments to plan, build innovation behind new ideas that fit plan. Barbie started talking about the plan a year ago, listening to consumers and preparing for the big launch. So far, they’ve stemmed the decline, but now they need to build a plan for the next 3-5 years that grows this business.
  5. Motivating a demotivated team: Losing can be contagious to a culture/team. Recognize wins to fuel performance driven culture. People on the team needed new leadership and needed room to take chances with this iconic brand.

We run workshops on Strategic Thinking that looks at brand strategy including competitive war games, focusing on your core strength, building connectivity with consumers and situational strategy.


Beloved Brands: Who are we?

At Beloved Brands, we promise that we will make your brand stronger and your brand leaders smarter. We can help you come up with your brand’s Brand Positioning, Big Idea and Brand Concept.

custom_business_card_pile_15837We also can help create Brand Plans that everyone in your organization can follow and helps to focus your Marketing Execution. We provide a new way to look at Brand Management, that uses a provocative approach to align your brand to the sound fundamentals of brand management. 

We will make your team of Brand Leaders smarter so they can produce exceptional work that drives stronger brand results. We offer brand training on every subject in marketing, related to strategic thinking, analytics, brand planning, positioning, creative briefs, customer marketing and marketing execution. 

To contact us, email us at or call us at 416-885-3911. You can also find us on Twitter @belovedbrands. 

Positioning 2016.111
Powered by Zedity



What will happen when Teenagers leave Facebook?

Posted on 14 CommentsPosted in Beloved Brands Explained

tumblr_lgfj0tfVVo1qdetk0o1_400I have two teenagers at home, so I can safely call myself the world’s foremost EXPERT ON TEENAGERS!!!   Actually, as a parent of teenagers, I have absolutely no clue what’s going on.  But that’s a whole different blog.  What I have noticed in 2013 is that my two teenagers aren’t using Facebook at all.  A sample of two:  my 16-year-old has only 5 posts this year and my 15-year-old has 7 posts. I know 40 year-olds that have that many posts in a day, posting anything from photos of cute cats rolling on the grass to a hilarious video of an old lady dancing to 28 photos of their 3-year-old at the zoo pointing to a Lion or commenting on “what’s a color without the letter E in it”.  

And we can’t figure out for the life of me why teenagers would want to leave this cool and fun party?  Actually, the answer is pretty easy: “YOU GUYS ARE SUCH LOSERS”. I hear that one every day. Keep in mind, we drop them off where we can’t be seen. This is the same thing that goes for social media. Don’t embarrass me!

Facebook was originally developed by College Students for College students and then quickly followed by High School students.  It became the place to be around 2007. Then 20 somethings got on, then Moms then snuck on in 2010 and now….Grandmas are on there. The biggest growing demographic is 55+. And they are commenting on photos. OMG!!!  WTF!!!  IKR!!!  GTFO!!! We had to tell my mom not to comment on my daughter’s Facebook page anymore for fear she would be unfriended and blocked. We are already blocked so we know what that feels like.   It stings.

This is pure comedy, an example of the horror teens are facing. It’s a mother trying to defend her son, on his girlfriend’s Facebook page.  My guess is they are no longer dating. 


Are we starting to get a picture of why the teens are leaving Facebook?  Just keep repeating this and it will help you understand teens: “YOU GUYS ARE SUCH LOSERS”. And then maybe go slam your door.  

Let’s look at the Facts

  • The active number of Facebook users in the US is down 7.4% in 2013.  The average age continues to climb every year, with 65% of Facebook users are now over 35 years old. The biggest complaint people have is that it’s boring. As my friend says “how come people will watch videos of cats falling off a sidewalk on-line, but if we said that’s a TV show, no one would watch it”. The answer is likely novelty.  
  • Moms have gone on Facebook in droves:  72% of Moms are now on Facebook. Half of them said they are really just going on to keep tabs on their kids. And 74% of Moms say they check their kids Facebook several times a week.  Slide1
  • On the flip side, one in three teens are embarrassed by their parents’ Facebook comments. The problem is that your teenagers know you’re spying. And they don’t appreciate it. Over 30% of teens say they have unfriended their parents. Teens complain they don’t get enough privacy on Facebook.  
  • Teens continue to turn to smartphones as their primary source and as a result prefer App based programs such as SnapChat, Twitter, KIK Messenger, Ask FM and Instagram. Adults can’t even find these and when they do, they can’t even work them. And when you figure it out, teens will just move on to something else.
  • Recent study found 33% of teens called Facebook the most important social network, closely followed by Twitter with 30%.  Twitter is significantly gaining.  Just 6 months ago, the scores were 42% to 27%.  

So now what happens? 

A few things come to mind.  

  • Kids want something that is uniquely their own.  It reminds me of what happened to the Gap Clothing store.  Back in the 1990s, it was the cool brand for teenagers.  Then Baby Gap and Maternity Gap meant teens would now be wearing the same clothes as their cute little nephew or their hugely pregnant Aunt.  Total Horror.  So the teens stopped going and then the pregnant aunt didn’t want to dress like someone uncool. So sales tumbled. This could be a metaphor for Facebook. Once you are everything to everyone, you end up nothing and to no one.   
  • One less chance for Control Freak Moms:  If a lot of moms are on Facebook only to spy on their kids, maybe they’ll now move on and stop using Facebook so much. How many pictures of Cats can we really “Like” while waiting for your little precious to post something you can tell her is totally inappropriate?   And other moms are likely only on Facebook because it’s the cool thing that teens do.  Once they find out it’s no longer cool, we could have our new version of the tipping point that Gap went through.
  • Advertisers are confused by Social Media yet again. Just as they were finally able to start putting numbers to social media, the whole world has changed yet again. Advertisers want to know reliable sources for where to invest their advertising dollars. They need payback and if the audience keeps moving, then it’s hard for them to have a steady reliable place to invest in.

The same problem continues:  How do we monetize Social Media platforms?

Most social media platforms follow the same pattern. They launch with a unique way of communicating that is a dramatic improvement over prior methods. There is minimal advertising because they are focused more on gaining a large following that might take a year or two. Plus, they are so unproven, making it very hard to get advertisers to buy into it. They end up with a large audience but no proven method of making money from that large audience. And then they take it public with a promise that “we’ll now use advertising to our huge audience to drive future revenues”. teens-on-cell-phonesThe claim is that the value of Social Media platforms should not be based on current revenue streams but on future revenue sources.  They say “trust us, this will be huge”.  Right?  You’ve heard this story before.  But as they said in Jerry McGuire:  “Show me the money!!!”  

We have to be able to see how a social media platform can make money. With some of these sites, I’m not seeing it yet.  But now, as Facebook is still trying to figure out how to monetize their huge user base, that user base is starting to leave. Down 7.4% is pretty significant for something that is free. The new mediums they are leaving for look like a total fad. How do these new vehicles make money?  There are no ads on Instagram or Snap Chat. Yes, Facebook now owns Instagram for a tidy $1 Billion.  But how do you now make money on it? By the time they figure out how to monetize, the teenagers are likely already moving on to what’s next. And the cycle continues.

Facebook had quickly become the wonder-drug of Social Media, the one powerhouse that everyone was engaged in and Advertisers were starting to understand. Will there be a new version of the mega social media platform or will the future just be fragmented into unique platforms for unique groups?  Does that make it harder or easier on Advertisers?  Yes, there will be better segmentation but confusion over how to go about reaching.  Too many executional options for too many media choices.  

Is Facebook at a tipping point? Will they just become the social media site for the over 30?

What’s your next move Facebook?

Here’s a presentation that can help Brand Leaders to get better Media Plans.  

 Positioning 2016.112