Hey! Dads play Barbie, too!
Mattel rolled out a new ad campaign with a very important message: dads play Barbie too. The company debuted the “Dads Who Play Barbie” campaign during Sunday’s AFC Championship game between the New England Patriots and the Pittsburgh Steelers. The ads are marketing gold because they are so relatable and truly charming.
There are several 30 second spots and one longer commercial, all of which are on YouTube right now. The clips show dads doing impressions of different Barbies in various professional roles including a doctor, a firefighter, an astronaut, a teacher and a paleontologist.
“Sundays are always football, and now that gets interrupted with a little uh, Barbie time,” one dad said in the ad. We’re sure a lot of dads can relate to that.
Another dad joked that he only plays with Ken, but in one of the clips you see him playing with Barbie in a dollhouse screaming “Help! There’s a fire in my building!” in a notably feminine tone and it’s adorable.
“I just want to see her grow up, do whatever it is that she loves to do and just enjoy every moment of life,” the dad said.
Not only is the ad brilliant by letting dads in on the fun, it also has a very empowering message about how important it is to nurture a young girl’s ambition. “She’s mentioned about ten different things that she wants to be and I think she could be anything she wants to be, or all of them,” one of the dads said.
All of the clips end with the same great tag line: “Time spent in her imaginary world is an investment in her real world.” Boom. Nailed it.
If these commercials seem super authentic and real to you, it’s because they are. According to AdWeek, the spots all featured actual dads and their daughters.
“These play moments were completely unscripted, so throughout the campaign you will see imaginations run wild, genuinely funny moments, and of course the sweet tender connections between these dads and their daughters,” Kristina Duncan, vice president of the global marketing communications at Barbie said.
For the past couple years we’ve seen Mattel make important strides to be more relevant and respond to the times. They featured a boy in one of their commercials about a year ago. They rolled out “career” Barbies with dolls in all sorts of gender bending professional roles. They also have a collection of “fashionista” Barbies made up of dolls with several body types, skin tones, and hair colors. These latest ads seem to be part of their ongoing efforts to modernize, be more inclusive, and appeal to millennial parents.
Not only is Mattel spot on with the message of this latest campaign, but can we talk about the cast of fathers and daughters for a second? They represent dads and daughters of all different races and ethnicities. If you have a family of mixed race or ethnicity you know how essential this is. My husband is an Iranian-American and he plays Barbie with our two daughters. Seeing dads with different skin tones, accents, and daughters with different hair textures is so important for us and for our kids because they need to feel like they can relate, and that they matter. All of our children need to be able to see themselves in the world and Mattel gets it.
Dads playing Barbie with their daughters is nothing new and undoubtedly happens in households all over. But to see it embraced, celebrated, and normalized is essential for breaking down old, worn out stereotypes and making new, inspiring narratives for our kids.