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Home » Engagement, News, Social Media News

Campaign of the Week: Mattel plays matchmaker to Barbie and Ken

Submitted by on February 14, 2011 – 2:34 pm2 Comments

Well, it’s Facebook official. Mattel, the iconic toy company, has reunited its most famous couple in a monthlong social media campaign just in time for Valentine’s Day. Was the boost in romance enough to goose Facebook fans, too? Here are the results.

How it went down: Mattel set-up a bespoke website to connect social media fans interested in helping Ken win back his longtime love interest Barbie. The site featured a “Love-O-Meter” that allowed participants to either tell Barbie to take Ken back, or take a walk. Users could follow Ken’s romantic moves through Barbie’s Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and Foursquare accounts.

Her response: As of this morning, Barbie officially announced her unrequited love for Ken, and the couple is planning on merging their Facebook accounts into one. (Is that even permissible under Facebook TOS?) Users who visit any of Barbie’s social accounts are being rewarded with a link to a special “Pop-Up Shop” with featured Barbie and Ken merchandise.

What Mattel did right: Mattel utilized a variety of mediums to publicize the campaign making it one of the most intricate and comprehensive we’ve seen outside of the automotive industry. The company tried to make the reunion as realistic as possible, so kudos there. For example, Ken started his own Facebook and Twitter accounts, and he even sign-up with the dating site to help him boost his odds. Ken also rented ad space on billboards in New York and Los Angeles to catch Barbie’s attention, and he’s even taken to doing interviews with magazines. Although it doesn’t appear to be directly connected to the campaign, Mattel launched a web series called “The Genuine Ken” featuring ten “Ken-testants” competing for the title of “The Great American Boyfriend.” At the very least it gets Mattel more SEO juice.

How did the campaign fare? Here is a tracking of Barbie’s Facebook (left) and Twitter (right) account followers over the past month:

The accounts saw a reasonable gain in followers. Barbie’s Facebook of now 1,730,000 fans attracted about 100,000 Likes and jumped about 8 percent in the past month. And her Twitter account jumped about 5,000 followers to 34,000, or over 16%.  Whether or not this has a significant effect on the sales of the campaign’s “Pop-Up Shop” on Barbie’s Facebook is yet to be seen.

Strategic Limitations: Mattel invested a lot of time and energy into this campaign. As mentioned above, they utilized a variety of different media, on and offline, and the build-up of campaign material almost made the outcome obvious. Who didn’t think Ken was going to get his girl? After Ken and Barbie fired it up in Toy Story 3, and Ken suddenly came on the social media scene a few months ago, it only seemed natural that something between the doll duo was in the works.

In that light, the biggest gain over the past month isn’t Barbie’s 134,000 new social media fans (as point of reference, that’s a lot, but consider that Ford gained 54,000 in only two days in their social media campaign last July). The biggest winner is Ken’s sudden reappearance you could say. Whether or not Mattel fully makes use of Ken’s social media presence – and whether he has the legs for it – is to be decided.

Final Call: Mattel built a creative and interactive campaign using a strategy that personalized their products on one of the most sentimental holidays of the year. But unless Mattel has a longer term plan for Barbie and Ken’s social media merger, there could still be a lot of broken hearts.


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