Barbie You Can Be Anything ad campaign

Barbie ‘You Can Be Anything’ ad campaign

Imagination precedes innovation and Mattel, Inc. wants girls to grow up believing that they can be anything they want to be. Through the brilliant “You Can Be Anything” ad campaign, the American multinational toy manufacturer is using the Barbie brand to encourage girls to dream and believe in the power of their imaginations.

Play encourages imagination. Computer scientist and researcher Chris L. Andreadis once said that the future manifests in the imagination of children and perfected in the games they play. Mattel obviously ascribe to this notion and the company uses the iconic Barbie doll to promote further this believe.

The “You Can Be Anything” ad video uploaded on YouTube and Facebook begins with the question, “What happens when girls are free to imagine they can be anything?” Done in the style of documentary filmmaking that uses hidden cameras, the video features little girls filling in the shoes of adults—as a professor, veterinarian, museum tour guide, soccer coach, and business executive. Surprised adults are left with seeming no choice but to remain charmed and amazed.

San Francisco-based advertising agency BBDO created and handled the ad campaign. The video was entirely unscripted and the featured careers were picked by the little girls themselves. In addition, the entire campaign wants to reintroduce the main selling point of the Barbie doll.

“This generation of moms has been bombarded with images with Barbie, but don’t know why Barbie was created in the first place,” said Matt Miller, executive creative director at BBDO. “We had this creative a-ha moment when we found a quote by Ruth Handler, Barbie’s creator, saying that she created Barbie to show girls that they had choices.”

Apart from the adorable quips and gestures, the storyline advances some feminist stance. Despite the achievements of the feminist movement and the accompanying modernity, prejudice toward girls and women persists in some communities and societies across the world. Some people and groups view femininity with limitations, confining girls and women within their subjective and discriminative worldviews.

Furthermore, in a world that apparently teaches appearance matters more than intelligence and talent and that typecasts genders to specific roles, it would be challenging to teach little girls that they can grow up to be anything they want to be.

The “You Can Be Anything” ad campaign is both amusing and refreshing. The closing part of the video features a young girl playing with the iconic Barbie dolls placed in a lecture hall handmade with cardboards. She is imagining a situation in which she is a professor while her dolls are her students.

The video ends with the statement, “When a girl plays with Barbie, she imagines everything she can become. You can be anything.”

According to BBDO, the video is apart of a yearlong campaign that will use social media and regional targeting to convey the aforementioned marketing and advocacy message. Mattel clearly wants little girls to know that no dream is too big to achieve. The entire ad is also a reminder of the power of the imagination of children and the endless opportunities in store for them. Photo and video credit: Mattel, Inc.

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