Posted by Rosepixie on May 27, 2010
In 1997 Aqua came out with the song “Barbie Girl”, which has become incredibly popular and nearly instantly recognizable over the years since. That same year Mattel sued the group for copyright and trademark infringement over the song, claiming that it slandered Barbie and turned her into a “blonde bimbo” and a sex object. They lost their lawsuit and their appeal. Recently, however, they appear to be trying to claim the song as their own and have used clips of it with altered lyrics in commercials and just this year released a “music video” starring the doll herself singing her version of the song. Here’s Barbie’s music video version of (a very altered) “Barbie Girl”.
I think it’s more than a little hypocritical of Mattel to sue over this song and then use it in their own marketing. They must be licencing it from Aqua, which means they’re paying for the right to use it. This means that they’re now paying for the right to use (and alter) a song that they were previously very much against. The fact that they’ve changed the lyrics quite a bit suggests that they’re still not terribly fond of the song, either. And since Mattel never mentions that the lyrics have been changed, I have to wonder if they hope people will learn their version instead of the original.
Looking at just the music video itself, without any of the politics around it, I’m not that impressed. I still get the impression that Barbie isn’t that brilliant or deep. And the problem isn’t actually the doll herself. I think if they’d stuck to all dolls in the video, they might have been fine. The problem is that the outfits Barbie and her friends can get away with just fine look really trashy on the real people in the ad. The real people doing the choreography in the doll-like outfits does evoke “bimbos” and sex objects, not “an inspiration” or “a star” while the dolls look perfectly fine!
I think this was a pretty big misstep for Mattel. I can understand wanting to use a song that evokes their doll and is already so popular. The problem is that they’ve got so much history with that song that isn’t pretty (and was only a decade ago, so not as forgotten as I’m sure they’d like it to be, either) and then their execution of the song actually seems to evoke more of the negative qualities that they were originally fighting against than the original did, despite their changes to the lyrics! While it might have been possible for Mattel to use this song to good effect, this was definitely not it. Hopefully they’ll do better next time.
Posted in Entertainment | Tagged: aqua, barbie, barbie-girl, music, music-video, toys | Leave a Comment »
Posted by Rosepixie on December 24, 2009
This is a commercial for the 2009 Holiday Barbie.
It’s Barbie’s 50th anniversary, so every doll has been fancier and pinker this year – a trend which seems to be culminating in this incredibly overdressed, wrapped in a giant bow, poofy pink Barbie. It’s a totally Barbie design, but I’m afraid I don’t see the “holiday” element that strongly. The ad apparently doesn’t either, since it really doesn’t stress that point.
I especially love how the people in the ad only get to look at Barbie, not really interact with her (pick her up, touch her, etc.). And the voice used for the voice-over at the very end is a little creepy somehow. I just didn’t think that this ad worked all that well.
Posted in Entertainment | Tagged: barbie, commercial, holiday, toys | 1 Comment »
Posted by Rosepixie on November 23, 2009
This is a trailer for Barbie’s newest movie, Barbie and the Three Musketeers.
So, every time I see a trailer for a Barbie movie I cringe and think it’s going to be awful, but every time I see one of the movies it turns out to actually be pretty good. This is the most cringe-worthy trailer yet, but given Barbie’s track record, I’m not going to rule out the movie based on that.
That said, she *clearly* needs a new marketing team for her movies. How is this a “princess” movie at all? And what’s with the Charlie’s Angels pose with fans, ribbons and a bow? Come on! These are the three musketeers! They use swords! All that great footage where the women are on horseback with SWORDS and practicing SWORDPLAY and stuff, that’s GREAT! That’s what makes this movie look appealing! The voice over about princesses and girl power makes it sound just stupid!
I think it’s awesome they pulled a classic story that wasn’t about a pretty, pretty princess for a change. And I think it’s fantastic that having the main characters all be women makes it a heavily “girl power” movie. But sell the movie on that basis, not on the “oooh, princesses with girl power!” basis, because all of Barbie’s movies have been about princesses with girl power. This pitch makes this look the same as every other Barbie movie, when in fact they’ve all been very different from each other and very different from this one!
Yeah, your audience is largely four to six year olds, but they can still follow a trailer made up of movie clips with the sound from those clips. They don’t need a stupid voice over. The people making the movies seem to respect their audience, so maybe the marketing department needs to try that for a change too. Then maybe I wouldn’t go into every Barbie movie thinking it’s going to be awful only be incredibly surprised (and feel stupid for feeling surprised about it again) when it’s actually really good. And maybe some of those parents who won’t buy the movies because they are sold as pink princess fluff would give them a chance.
Posted in Entertainment | Tagged: barbie, barbie-and-the-three-musketeers, movie, trailer | Leave a Comment »
Posted by Rosepixie on October 2, 2009
This is the very first commercial for Barbie from 1959. It was shown during the Mickey Mouse Club.
I think it’s interesting how it actually encourages girls to dream of growing up to be exactly like Barbie. She didn’t even have friends or a personality or background in 1959. All anyone knew about her was that she was a teenage fashion model and had tons of pretty (if often ever-so-slightly out of fashion) clothes. So what were you dreaming to be if you wanted to be exactly like Barbie when you grew up? I also like that she was described as petite, since that was a desirable feature then. This descriptor has long since been dropped from Barbie’s marketing.
Then we have Ken’s first commercial from 1961 (because she needed a boyfriend). I can’t find Midge’s first commercial, but she came before Ken and must have had one, right? At least I hope so, since Allen got his own first commercial a few years later!
Ken doesn’t get a perky theme song, but he does get a whole background story explaining how he’s connected to Barbie and how they met. Not that he has any personality, but he makes up for it with a whole wardrobe of “perfectly tailored clothes”. This commercial really reinforces that Barbie and Ken are supposed to be teenagers, which seems less clear in Barbie’s commercial.
Although we could go on forever with this, since Barbie’s world is made up of an incredible number of characters (she was unimaginably popular, although apparently made friends with few guys over the past fifty years), I’m going to share only one more commercial today. This last one is Skipper’s very own first commercial from 1964.
Wow. Skipper sounds like the most annoying little tag-along sister, doesn’t she? For some reason, her hair is apparently more fun to play with than Barbie’s too. What I find interesting here is that although she’s younger, closer to the age of the girls playing with the dolls (and certainly much younger than the Skipper we know today), we aren’t encouraged to identify with Skipper at all. We’re supposed to want to be Barbie and want to brush Skipper’s hair. Does this seem odd to anyone else?
Incidentally, Skipper is the first of Barbie’s siblings to be introduced, but she’s apparently got several stair-stepping down like the Brady Bunch, all the way down to baby Chrissy. And even though we’ve met all these siblings (even the baby), we’ve never met Barbie’s parents. She must have at least a mom around somewhere, right? We have met Midge’s mom and dad, but somehow, Barbie’s parents have stayed safely in the wings. They must be hiding in Willows, WI (the hometown Barbie never seems to visit anymore).
Posted in Entertainment, Vintage | Tagged: 1950s, 1960s, barbie, commercial, mattel, theme-song, toy | Leave a Comment »