It's a Barbie World

With the first season the Mad Men taking place in 1960 and the Barbie brand being introduced in 1959, it was only a matter of time before the two industries merged together. Sold at around $75.00 per doll, Barbie and Ken will soon become one of four characters in Mad Men: Joan Holloway, Roger Sterling, Don Draper, or Betty Draper.

But do the characters of Mad Men fall too close to home to be a typical Barbie doll? Is Betty Draper not a Barbie doll herself? This draws an interesting question; now that we see the damage and disloyalty that truly lies behind the perfect “Barbie doll” characters on Mad Men, does that make the image of Barbie and Ken less perfect?

This is something the creative executives at Barbie marketing took under consideration. As stated by Stuart Elliott in his New York Times article about the subject, “The dolls come with period accessories like hats, overcoats, pearls and padded undergarments, but no cigarettes, ashtrays, martini glasses or cocktail shakers." It turns out, it doesn’t matter whether you are living in 1960 or 2010; when it comes to advertising, image almost always takes precedence over truth.

1 comment:

  1. After reading The New York Times article about the Mad Men Barbie dolls, there were several interesting ideas expressed in the article that are worthy of additional emphasis. The most significant idea that Stuart Elliot refers to is that the “two dolls represent a relationship outside wedlock, and Don Draper’s propensity for adultery, may be firsts for the Barbie world since the brand’s introduction five decades ago.” While noting that this is interesting it might not be totally accurate. Additionally, it is of tantamount importance to note how similar Barbie and Ken’s relationship is to Don and Betty’s relationship!

    Most people familiar with Barbie dolls know that Ken and Barbie have had a very inconsistent relationship. In fact, Barbie made “news” in 2004 when “just like J.Lo and Ben, the romance is over for Barbie and Ken.” Russell Arons the vice president of marketing at Mattell told the press that Barbie and Ken needed “to spend some quality time - apart.” This is surprisingly similar to the relationship shared by Betty and Don in many ways.

    One of these ways that they are similar is their relationship with “Midge.” In the first season of Mad Men, Don Draper has an affair with a beatnik named Midge. In “Barbie World” Ken knows a Midge. In fact, Ken’s best friend is actually the doll Midge’s husband.

    Another way that Barbie and Ken’s relationship is similar to that of Don and Betty’s relationship is evident in the inconsistent relationship of the couples. Both couples are notorious for having arguments and often times not getting along well and after long relationships both couples decided to separate.

    Furthermore the female characters choose to move on and date other men. In season two Betty has an affair with Henry Francis. This is similar to Barbie in that following this stunning announcement it was announced that Barbie began dating Blaine--a boogie border from Australia. Since then in 2006 Ken was redesigned and Barbie and Ken got back together. In the second season Betty becomes involved with Henry Francis. Betty ends this relationship and eventually ends the relationship tries to break off a relationship that she has with Henry Francis. Betty and Henry resume their relationship in the third season.

    While I am interested in the commercial analysis of these dolls it is very fitting that Don and Betty have been immortalized as Barbie dolls.