Mary Portas meets Barbie in Channel 4 documentary

Published on: 3rd October 2017

Mattel has granted a UK broadcaster behind the scenes access into the doll’s world for the first time.

Channel 4 has commissioned a one-off documentary investigating the success of one of the world’s most popular toys – Barbie. Along with her stylish friends and boyfriend Ken, Barbie has modelled a plethora of fashions since her debut in 1959, and inspired youngsters by undertaking over 180 jobs: from police officer to pilot to United States Presidential candidate. In the programme, Mary hopes to find out just how Barbie fits into the 21st century’s expectations of womanhood.

Thanks to privileged access to Mattel, the programme sees Mary head to the US, making a pilgrimage to the place where founder Ruth Handler started it all. Along the way she meets experts, collectors and fans young and old on both sides of the pond to find out what has made the iconic toy become the worldwide multi-billion dollar business seen today. With a growing mix of options vying for children’s imaginations, Mary asks; what does the future hold for the 30cm poseable plastic doll?

The programme offers a fresh take on the brand’s journey over the past three years, since Mattel set out to change the way the world talked about Barbie. In an effort to get consumers to reappraise the brand, Barbie has made several bold moves, evolving communication from focusing on Barbie’s material possessions to what the doll enables; that through open-ended play, storytelling and imagination, girls can reach their limitless potential. This was brought to life with an award-winning advertising campaign, You Can Be Anything, that to date has more than 50m views.


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