Can superhero Barbie revive Mattel?

Barbie has become a superhero – at the age of 56.

Mattel is hoping the new doll, launched at the Nuremberg Toy Fair in Germany on Tuesday, will revive its fortunes.

Company earnings are down 60 per cent, the chief executive officer has just left and a fifth straight drop in quarterly sales is on the cards.



Barbie has been losing out to electronic toys and Disney characters, particularly those from the top-selling Disney movie franchise Frozen.

"The reason that the frozen dolls have been so popular is that people are really able to identify with those characters. They have very nuance characters, they're not just the stereotypical fairy princess they have a personality and an unconventional personality in some ways.

"Whereas Barbie is often seen as having a very bland outlook and very pleasing to everyone and not someone who would upset the status quo."  – Mr Robert Haigh, Marketing Director, Brand Finance, Mattell 

Mattel bought Canadian toymaker Mega Brands last year to try and match the success of another rival Lego.

But the Danish firm, buoyed by a blockbuster Lego movie, still overtook it to become the world's biggest toymaker by sales.

"Lego had its own problems less than 10 years ago and it faced near bankruptcy but it's been hugely successful reviving itself since then and that's mainly been through partnerships with other brands such as Star Wars and Batman.  So it's been able to use their brand power to revive its own fortunes."

Barbie may be losing out to a few new trends, but the brand is still worth US$470 million (S$635m) to Mattel.

The launch coincided with a new animated film about the doll as a princess with a superhero life, reported International Business Times.

Watch the Princess Power Barbie in action.



Sources: Reuters, International Business Times