Friday, April 20, 2007

Barbie caves to competitor

Barbie recently launched the beta of their new virtual world "Barbiegirls" and it signals several interesting developments from the age-old toy brand. First and most obvious is the entry into the virtual doll space, something that no doubt will significantly change the way we think about playing with your Barbie. But the Barbie brand hasn't been shy about entering the interactive entertainment space as they've licensed several game titles before. The more interesting thing for me is the shift in "look".

Take a look at the Barbiegirls site and you notice that this isn't your classic Barbie. In fact, the avatar (image to the right. Barbie is on the right) is nearly identical to Barbie's latest and most threatening competitor, Bratz. Are we seeing Barbie throw in the towel? Can this be more than the launch of a virtual world but actually a test initiative to see if Barbie can hang with the Bratz crowd? I think so.

I have to hand it to Barbie. It takes a lot for a brand to reposition itself and admit defeat. They probably could have done it sooner but for a brand like Barbie, it understandably takes a while to change direction (partly because you also don't want to dilute the brand by changing everytime a new trend pops up).

Here's another thought: Is our idealized female image now a teenage girl? Barbie, I believe, represented a young independent woman, early 20s at least. With Bratz a manifestation of our idolatry of Lohan and crew, have we shifted our preference even younger? That's a scary thought.

1 comment:

Bartoneus said...

Scary indeed! Good point about the company behind Barbie being hesitant to adapt and change to fads/trends. I think this definitely could mean that the younger image is becoming more prevalent and may be here for the long haul.