It’s no secret that Mattel has a Barbie problem. Sales of the fashion doll have slumped for the past four years, down 16 per cent in 2014 and showing no signs of improvement.
Even American Girl, Mattel’s once-hot line of pricey historical collectibles, has disappointed in recent years. Sales were down 2 per cent in the third quarter of 2015.
Starting next year, Barbie will be faced with new competition from rival Hasbro, which won Mattel’s long-held license to sell the hugely popular Disney Princesses line of movie tie-ins, including Frozen heroine Elsa.
Its relevance with little girls on the wane, perhaps Mattel’s timing is just right, then, in unveiling the ad that accompanies its collaboration with fashion brand Moschino.
The ad for the limited-edition Moschino Barbie marks the first time a boy has starred in a campaign for the doll, appearing alongside an ethnically diverse line-up of little girls.
Fashions followers will notice the young boy in the video has been intentionally styled to resemble Moschino creative director Jeremy Scott, with a voluminous blond faux-hawk hairstyle matching the designer’s.
Scott has called Barbie a muse, telling Style.com: “Like every girl and gay boy, I loved Barbie.”
The ad is already resonating with other male Barbie fans. One of the top comments on Moschino Barbie’s YouTube video comes from RuPaul’s Drag Race star Pandora Boxx, who wrote: “This almost made me cry! I used to play with my sister’s Barbies and felt such shame afterward. I’m so glad we can just let kids be kids. Thank you for this! Boys like dolls too!”
As for Moschino Barbie herself, the $150 collector’s edition doll sold out within an hour of release last week. She can now be found o eBay and other resale sites going for more than double that price.