Barbie “Cements” Her Status as Hollywood Royalty
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Barbie “Cements” Her Status as Hollywood Royalty

As toy companies execute traditional product launches and competition for video/DVD publicity becomes even greater, Mattel looked to break through the media clutter in 2002 with something unique for the Barbie Brand’s second movie, Barbie as Rapunzel.

Paul Holmes

As toy companies execute traditional product launches and competition for video/DVD publicity becomes even greater, Mattel looked to break through the media clutter in 2002 with something unique for the Barbie Brand’s second movie, Barbie as Rapunzel.
Although Barbie doll has been a true star to millions of little girls around the world for more than 43 years, a media moment-in-time was needed to promote the release of Barbie as Rapunzel and establish Barbie as a true entertainment property. Without an official movie premiere or celebrity spokesperson from the movie, Mattel enlisted Ketchum to help determine how to tickle the media pink despite the many challenges. To guarantee media success, a “tried and true” Hollywood-style publicity stunt was staged—with a twist. Ultimately, PR served as the Barbie Brand’s creative window in which Barbie could break through the “glass ceiling.”
he program objective was to position the Barbie Brand as a credible entertainment property by creating a media buzz/demand for “Barbie as Rapunzel” and generate at least 10 million media.
The challenges included the fact that Barbie as Rapunzel was a made-for-video/DVD title, with no official movie premiere; an increased competitive media landscape surrounding “made for video/DVD” titles; the absence of a celebrity spokesperson available from the movie; and the fact that the perfect spokesperson and “mother” of Barbie—Ruth Handler—had passed away in early 2002.
Ketchum researched publicity results of video/DVD launch events in the past and determined that the majority did not generate a significant amount of media coverage. With this in mind, Ketchum knew a creative approach would be needed to break through the clutter and they began to think of Barbie as a celebrity in her own right. What better way to celebrate Barbie’s newfound movie stardom than honor her with a “tried and true” Hollywood media stunt usually reserved for real-life celebrities?
In lieu of an official movie premiere and celebrity spokesperson, Ketchum conducted research into having Barbie get her star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, but found that she must have at least five years in the entertainment business in order to be considered.  With only two movies under her pink heels, Ketchum pursued an alternate option, and approached Johnny Grant and the Hollywood Chamber of Commerce to have Barbie doll’s hands and footprints cemented like a real celebrity.
Because Barbie doll creator Ruth Handler passed away in early 2002, the question was who would do the honors of placing Barbie doll’s hands and footprints in the famous wet cement? After all, a doll can’t walk the red carpet! The unexpected twist was who helped Barbie doll – none other than Ruth Handler’s daughter – Barbara Handler Segal, the doll’s namesake inspiration. Segal, who shied away from the media spotlight, made a rare public appearance in honor of her late mother and it was paparazzi pandemonium!
 Barbie doll joined a long list of “Who’s Who” among celebrity royalty when she was officially inaugurated into Hollywood stardom on November 13 as her hands and footprints were immortalized in cement at the Egyptian Theatre on the world-famous Hollywood Boulevard. Hollywood’s Honorary Mayor, Johnny Grant, hosted the celebration that toasted the success of “Barbie in the Nutcracker” and “Barbie as Rapunzel”—movies that have solidified Barbie doll’s status as a movie star.
The unique combination of Barbie doll and her “namesake” getting their hands and footprints immortalized created a fun visual that garnered Hollywood-worthy buzz. As children gathered around the stage anxiously and cameras flashed away for that one picture-perfect moment-in-time, Barbara Handler Segal walked the red carpet, with movie star Barbie in-hand for her big entrance into Hollywood history and reinforced Barbie as an entertainment property.
 With more than 20 million media impressions including national media coverage on CNN, FOX News and ABC World News and more than 200 television news features across the country, the Barbie hand and footprint event achieved the Barbie Brand’s number one goal: Establish the buzz in the media and with consumers about “Barbie as Rapunzel”… and talk they did! Although Mattel doesn’t give out exact numbers, Barbie as Rapunzel was the #1 children’s video and #6 video overall for six weeks following its release.
National/regional broadcast coverage included CNN, FOX News, ABC World News and Telemundo; national wire coverage with photos included AP and Reuters. More than 200 local television news features in cities included Los Angeles, San Francisco, New York, Philadelphia, Chicago, Houston, Dallas, San Diego, Atlanta and Phoenix. Local daily print coverage included LA Daily News, LA Daily Breeze, Arizona Daily Star, Charleston Gazette, San Antonio Express-News and Tulsa World.
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