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Mattel makes a magical connection through integrated marketing efforts

Posted on Sunday, 13th February, 2011

This week Mattel released a new social campaign to launch their new “Sweet Talkin’ Ken” doll for Ken’s 50th anniversary. (At last, a man who says everything you want him to say!) At the pricepoint of ($19-31), the doll records five seconds of your voice and plays it back in a deep baritone. But Mattel didn’t just make a static Facebook page with an embedded mp3. file. They went ALL OUT. So far out, that yes, I am dedicating an entire blog post to this integration effort that makes me drool with anticipation that one day marketers may use this as a case study to answer “What does a well-integrated marketing campaign look like?”

Newsflash: This is it. This is what good looks like.

Now at 51,747 views (as of 7:58pm 2/13), the above video above chronicles Ken as he develops a profile on in search of his blonde beauty, Barbie.

The video drives you to and asks “Will Barbie Take Ken Back”? and asks the audience to vote, and the love-o-meter adjusts to he social vote.

All social integration stems from the main site and encourages the audience to follow along and interact with Ken on his journey to win Barbie back through various social channels like:




An amazing multi-channel integrated campaign; it’s marketing magic that successfully addresses a multitude of generations, through a multitude of social channels.

When I think back to when I was 6 years old I had a TON of barbies. Kids these days have toys, but mostly interact with technologically derived ones (ie: Sony Playstation, XBox 360/Kinect, online gaming/video, etc) and latest stats show the younger generations consume more TV through online channels such as Hulu and JustinTV.

Most impressive, in my opinion, are the following 2 integrated initiatives:

  • Cross-channel integration from Mattel in the form a TV web series hosted by Whitney Port (who has a cult-following of young girls age 16-30) called Genuine Ken, featuring “Ken-testants” who are competing for the title of “The Great American Boyfriend“.

  • Offline element of the campaign including timely appearances during 2011 New York Fashion Week and a collaboration with six Council of Fashion Designers of America (CFDA) menswear designers (Designers Simon Spurr, Billy Reid, Nicholas K, Yigal Azrouel, Michael Bastian, and Robert Geller) who each designed an outfit for the ‘Kenswear Collection” in celebration of the man doll’s 50th birthday. They threw a party this evening at Christie’s Gallery 6 for his exclusive “Kenswear Presentation” where pop culture combined with fashion and art. The invite promoted guests to check-in on foursquare and use the official event hashtag #kenswear as they tweeted throughout the evening.

I imagine the strategy behind this social-driven campaign not only calls for 6-14 yr olds to interact with the Mattel brand— but also to influence engagement across the 28-40 yr ‘momfluential’ demographic. It may brings them back to their childhood/give them a reason to interact with this campaign as well as their children. Everyone loves a lil’ nostalgia here and there—and Mattel did a fantastic job of bring that back for us through current channels.

There are lots of campaigns that are creatively amazing and well-integrated, BUT (wait for it….) YES, unfortunately it’s not always about the pink and blue PMS colors, at the end of the day there needs to be some green blended into that campaign. I’m not privy to the metrics Mattel has set forth for success, or how they have set up KPIs for social awareness/engagement= sales. We’ll have to wait and see how “Sweet Talkin Ken” does during Valentines Day. I can see a LOT of guys buying this as a joke for their ladies and ladies buying it for their jaded friends…just not sure about anyone else.

But it doesn’t erase Mattel’s fantastic multi-channel engagement effort. Record this and play it back: “Well done, color me impressed, Ken.”


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