Best of 2009: Mattel's Global Events for Barbie's 50th Anniversary

Mattel's Lauren Dougherty planned a year of global events for Barbie's 50th anniversary.

December 11, 2009, 9:00 AM EST

Lauren Dougherty

Photo: Line 8 Photography

As director of Barbie marketing for Mattel, Lauren Dougherty shouldered the task of producing a year of events celebrating the doll’s 50th anniversary in 2009. Along with two co-chairs of the marketing campaign, Liz Grampp and Brad Armistead, Dougherty headed the ambitious celebratory campaign, which included events, retail, online initiatives, and new products. “I really do believe that everyone knew it was Barbie’s 50th this year,” she says. “You just couldn’t miss it.”

A Global Approach Events and fashion shows in major world capitals allowed Barbie’s target demographic, girls of all ages, to experience the brand. Barbie quickly amassed more than 135,000 fans on Facebook, as well as a Twitter following, and products related to the toy turned up at pop-up shops and boutiques internationally, some with top-name designer collaborations, like housewares with Jonathan Adler. A centerpiece Los Angeles bash for about 200 in March played off the Malibu Dream House toy—a coveted accessory—taking to a real-life beach house on Pacific Coast Highway and going wild with life-size incarnations of Barbie’s treasures and pleasures. The brand also hosted its first runway show at Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week in New York in February, opened a special boutique and exhibit at the Colette store in Paris in March, and launched a suite at the Palms in Las Vegas in June.

Taking It Personally “Planning and celebrating Barbie’s 50th birthday events and partnerships this year has truly been the most amazing professional—and even personal—experience,” Dougherty says. “As a true pop-culture icon, Barbie opens doors in a way that no other brand can. We’ve had the opportunity to collaborate with best-in-class names across many industries, work with some of the world’s most incredible creative minds, and have tons of fun while doing it all. I feel like I’ve had the opportunity to experience a decade full of moments and successes in just one very short year.”

Looking Ahead “As fun as it has been, celebrating Barbie’s 50th globally has been strategically and creatively challenging, with many audiences, objectives, and creative inputs to consider. Our goal was not only to celebrate the five decades of Barbie’s heritage and legacy, but to also nod to Barbie’s exciting future and execute everything through a very modern, relevant, and fashionable filter,” Dougherty says. “The Barbie team really approached this year as the first chapter in the next 50 years for the Barbie brand.” She says the campaign inspired “a new way of doing business and marketing the brand” going forward.

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