Barbie But No Ken for Olympic Range

As a brand symbol, the Olympic Rings are one of the best known and best protected in the world.

A new more ‘out there’ licensing strategy though will see them appearing in more places and spaces this year than ever before.

One of those places will be on the tiny crop top of a surfing Barbie doll following the announcement that the IOC and Mattel, makers of the iconic toy have reached agreement on a range of toys.

These will include a range of branded ‘Hot Wheels’ cars and Uno cards but it is Barbie who has grabbed the headlines.

The new range which will be available in the Spring is said to “highlight inclusivity and innovation, with toys reflecting the five new sports added to the Olympic programme in Tokyo – baseball/softball, sport climbing, karate, skateboarding and surfing – all to inspire a new generation of athletes and fans around the world.”

Barbie Dolls came into the current Millenium in sharp decline as they became representative of unrealistic images of body image. In 2010 Mattel had to apologise for remarks in a book suggesting that Barbie could only design a puppy dog on her computer but needed help from her boy friends to do any more.

To be fair they have sought to address the issue and over 50 per cent of sales now are of dolls from diverse backgrounds. The 176 models on sale in 2019 included Barbies of different racial background and body size, a transgender model and ones with prosthetic limbs (I know, all her limbs are prosthetic) and in a wheelchair.

The Olympic models will add to the sense that young girls can aspire to be anything they want and we should step back from an initial unease to see that if they are still as popular as they are, and they are making efforts to address the sins of the past, that they can have a positive influence.

It would be interesting to get your views as to whether this is a good thing and if you want you can email us to let us know.

One final point, we have always admired the Olympics insistence on equality with regard to new sports and that they will only ever be accepted onto the programme if there are equal opportunities for men and women in competition.

On that basis, we are a little surprised that there is no mention or sign of Ken in the Olympic range…


Image Credit: Mattel

Similar Articles