Move over Coke and Pepsi. Forget it Airbus and Boeing. The hottest corporate rivalry right now is between Barbie and the Bratz. And for the first time recently, the upstarts outsold one of America’s oldest and most popular toys.
It was the news that shook the toy merchandising world. The upstart doll, the Bratz, outsold Barbie last holiday season.
With Barbie knocked off her pedestal, toy industry pundits see an end of an era. Barbie, Ken, and all their attendant accessories simply don’t resonate with kids like they used to.
Toy Merchandising Wars
The culprit, these critics continue, is the rise of Brittany Spears, Paris Hilton, and other vaguely trashy role models, who have rung in a world where seven year olds wear make-up and show off their midriffs. How can good girl Barbie compete when the bad girls are running the show?
The name alone tells you that the Bratz brand, created by a former Barbie employee, is targeting the Brittany set. The Bratz doll has bad girl attitude in spades. Its shape and look is trashy, but also a bit more fun and cartoon-like than refined Barbie and friends.
Barbie Strikes Back
Like goody-two-shoes Sandy in Grease, Barbie isn’t letting the bad girls have all the fun and profits. According to the New York Times, Mattel (Barbie’s manufacturer) is about to unveil a new Ken and a little drama.
The story is that Ken has lost Barbie to Blaine, an Australian surfer. To get Barbie back, Ken has gone all Emo, as the kids say. He now wears cargo pants, a well worn motorcycle jacket, and totes a bike messenger bag that could be easily filled with books and notepads filled with love musings for Barbie.
Toy Merchandising Career Challenge
The whole makeover (and soap opera surrounding it) is to be unveiled at a full-fledged press conference, timed to take place just before the yearly toy merchandising convention in New York.
Revenge of Barbie? Bratz Merchandising Unimpressed
The Bratz (or their creators) sniff at the efforts. According to the New York Times, Isaac Larian, the chief executive of Bratz’s parent company, MGA Entertainment, called the reunion of Barbie and Ken “stupid publicity.”
“Ken is not going to save Barbie,” he added.
Maybe or maybe not, but toy merchandising jobs have never been this exciting!