Barbie World

18 October 2019 | Lucy Bishop

2019 marks the 60th birthday of the Barbie doll. Being one of the most iconic toys of the past century, Barbie has inspired and empowered girls across the globe that they can grow up and be anything that they want to be. Over her 60 years, Barbie has had a huge variety of jobs from an astronaut, doctor and even the president.

Sales in decline

However, sales of the doll have been in huge decline over the last few years, with parents unhappy about buying their children unrealistically proportioned dolls with skinny waists and ‘perfect’ figures. Mattel has tried to overcome this with the launch of ‘Barbie Fashionistas’ a range of Barbie’s that have more realistic body shapes - petite, tall and curvy - seven different skin tones and 24 new hairstyles.

Latest stunt

In their latest stunt, Mattel has teamed up with Airbnb to announce that Barbie is listing her Malibu Dreamhouse on the platform. The Dreamhouse – yes, an actual house – is only available to book for a one-time, two-night stay for one guest and up to three friends who will have exclusive access to the property.

The property comes complete with an infinity pool, movie theatre and its very own ‘dress up’ wardrobe full of some of Barbie’s most iconic looks including her neon 1980’s aerobic outfit, a spacesuit and a firefighter uniform. There’s also a meditation terrace, outdoor DJ booth and a sports court all, of course, adorned with Barbie’s favourite colour; pink.

Celebrity additions

As well as living the life of Barbie, guests will also be able to enjoy a meet-and-greet with celebrity hairstylist Jen Atkin, a cooking experience with top chef Gina Clarke-Helm, a fencing lesson with Olympic champion Ibtihaj Muhammad and a trip to the Columbia Memorial Space Centre with pilot and aerospace engineer Jill Meyers. Simply reminding guests that they can be anything they want to be.

Another way that Airbnb will celebrate Barbie’s 60th birthday is by making a donation to one of the charities involved in The Barbie Dream Gap Project. By the age of five, girls are less likely to view their own gender as ‘smart’, something that the Barbie Dream Gap Project is aiming to remove as well as inspiring young girls that they can be whatever they want to be.

Positive PR

This a lovely stunt from Mattel and has been doing the rounds all over the news, serving up a great dose of positive PR for both the Barbie brand and for Airbnb. So, a cracking idea all round, but will it help in turning around sales? To coin a phrase from another well-known retailer, every little helps, I suppose.