In the wake of free-falling profits, Mattel is scrambling to make Barbie stay relevant in the 21st century and shake off its reputation of enforcing gender stereotypes.
In January, the company reported a 59 percent decrease in fourth-quarter profits, thanks in part to declining Barbie sales. Sales of the fashion doll have dropped in the past four years, down 16 percent in 2014.
But the company is back with a vengeance. In its latest ad for Moschino Barbie, a boy playing with dolls is featured for the first time in Barbie’s 56 years.
American drag queen and reality TV personality Pandora Boxx commented on the video, “This almost made me cry! I used to play with my sister’s Barbies and felt such shame afterward. I’m so glad we can just let kids be kids. Thank you for this! Boys like dolls too!”
This follows other moves by Mattel this year to promote a more empowering message to its young audience.
It announced a new range of superhero dolls to be released in 2016 that weren’t scantily clad, or had unrealistic body measurements.
The women who designed them, Christine Kim, said athletes and gymnasts were the inspiration for the doll’s body types, after compiling months of feedback from young girls.
Mattel also previously dropped a new warm, fuzzy ad called Imagine The Possibilities. The ad asked viewers, “What happens when girls are free to imagine they can be anything?”
This is a vastly different direction the company is heading in compared to previous years. Previously, it was focused on making its dolls family-orientated and beauty-obsessed.
Check out Barbie’s first ever ad from 1959.
On a slightly related note, New Zealand TV show Funny Girls cleverly mocked this through a made-up board game, Career Girl.