For 56 years, Barbie has been the queen of the doll world, but behind the plastic fantastic smile is a harsh truth: sales are down by 14% and they’ve been falling steadily for the last three years.
Is Barbie’s crown threatening to slip? Mary Portas (Mary Queen of Shops), the same age as Barbie herself, is venturing into the blonde bombshell’s world to find out whether Barbie’s days are numbered.
Retail and fashion guru Mary takes us on a journey during this pivotal period for Barbie. How does one of the world’s most iconic brands survive for over half a century, trying to thrive in a world with such different female role models? Can one of the world’s biggest brands move with the times and capture a whole new generation of fans?
As a retail, fashion and brand expert, Mary is fascinated to learn what this multi-million brand really means to children today. And what does she mean to their parents? Who is really behind those falling sales – who killed (or is killing) Barbie? Is it the parents, embracing feminist principles and worried about a global obsession with body image? Or does she just feel old-fashioned to an iPad-obsessed child? We will set up psychological experiments to test these key questions.
Even while big questions are being asked about the brand, we mustn’t forget that Barbie still means so much to so many people. Mary throws herself deep into the wonderful world of the obsessives who have spent many hours and a lot of money dedicated to their plastic idol. Mary is guest of honour at the official Barbie convention in Texas where thousands of collectors travel from all over the world to bid for mint condition Barbies and role play with their Dream Houses. What drives a Barbie fan such as Stanley to spend $30,000 every month on updating his collection of over 3,000 Barbie and Ken dolls?
Mary’s disarming approach takes us deeper than the corporate story of Barbie; by finding out what the story of Barbie can tell us about the society we live in and how it has changed. Can Barbie ever keep up? And should she even try?