If Barbie Is So #Unapologetic, What’s with the NYT Ad?

DrAdsforProfileWell the Doc opened up the old mailbag today and here’s what poured out.

Dear Dr. Ads,

I’m a big fan of the annual Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Edition (hey – I read it for the articles), so imagine my surprise when Barbie® turned up as one of the Barbies featured in this year’s model.

Then I saw this full-page ad in the New York Times.

 

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What is this, Doc – some sorta Hall of Vanity Mirrors?

– Ken

Dear Ken,

That doesn’t capture the half of it.

This put-another-swimsuit-on-the-Barbie campaign is a masterstroke of marketing, generating media coverage from Trenton to Taipei.

Representative sample (via Yahoo! Shine):

Barbie Graces Cover of “Sports Illustrated,” Mom Wants Apology

In what can only be described as a bizarre marketing move, a bikini-clad Barbie is being featured on the wrap cover of the 2014 Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Edition, debuting this week. That’s right, unrealistic curves and all. For 50 years, the sports 470_2759313magazine has dedicated one cover a year to scantily clad ladies like Kate Upton and Brooklyn Decker, and for their 50th anniversary, they are paying tribute to a doll.

Really? Barbie on the wrap cover of what has become the “sexiest” magazine cover of the year? The unveiling of which is surrounded by as much pomp and circumstance as People’s“Sexiest Man of the Year” or Time’s “Person of the Year?” This is not only sexualizing a child’s doll, but making the ultimate unattainable body (that’s not even human) the epitome of female perfection. (Yes, I know it is the promotional wrap and not the actual cover but STILL!)

 

Seriously – angry Moms are gold to any marketer chasing the 18-49 demo, the population most coveted by advertisers.

Meanwhile, here’s what #Unapologetic gets you.

 

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And etc.

Yo.

 

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What’s Up with the NYC Girls Project?

DrAdsforProfileWell the Doc opened the old mailbag today and here’s what poured out.

Dear Dr. Ads,

Did you see this story in the New York Times yesterday?

City Unveils a Campaign to Improve Girls’ Self-Esteem

The fashion industry and Madison Avenue are not anathema to Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg in the same way that soda companies and big tobacco are. But they are, in a sense, the impetus for City Hall’s latest public health campaign.GIRLS-02-articleInline

Mr. Bloomberg is taking on the popular, unattainable notions of beauty promoted by professional image-makers with a campaign that tells girls that they are beautiful the way they are.

Mainly through bus and subway ads, the campaign aims to reach girls from about 7 to 12 years old, who are at risk of negative body images that can lead to eating disorders, drinking, acting out sexually, suicide and bullying. But unlike Mr. Bloomberg’s ads to combat teenage pregnancy, smoking and soda-drinking, which are often ugly, revolting or sad, these ads are uniformly upbeat and positive.

Whaddaya think, Doc – good idea?

– Bloom(berg) Off the Rose

Dear Bloom(berg),

First off, the Doc has never lacked for self-esteem, so he’s the ideal person to address this issue.

The $330,000 NYC Girls Project describes itself as “[a] public education campaign geared toward girls ages 7-12 appearing on buses, subways, and phone kiosks and featuring a diverse group of girls performing activities like reading, playing sports, and drawing with the words: “I’m a girl. I’m smart, a leader, adventurous, friendly, funny. I’m beautiful the way I am.”

Yes you are. (See PSA here.)

It reminds the Doc of Nike’s classic 1995 damage-control If You Let Me Play spot.

 

There are some NYC Girls Project spoilsports, though.

From Slate:

This initiative gets so many things right. But to pick a nit, what’s with the slogan? As Kat Stoeffel at the Cut notes, “There’s something slightly contradictory about the NYC Girls Project message—‘Don’t worry about how you look. You look beautiful!’ ” Isn’t the point of the program to encourage girls to disassociate their sense of worth from their physical appearance? Why couldn’t the slogan simply be, “I’m Awesome the Way I Am?”

From Time:

The NYC Girl’s Project may have employed all the right tactics, but the long-term effectiveness of self-esteem programs is still in question. In a study published in 2013 on an Internet-based promotion of positive body image, young girls in the study reported a decrease in body dissatisfaction: they compared their bodies less to others and were more satisfied with their own appearance than girls who hadn’t seen the promotion. However, the positive effects had dissipated during a followup interview three months later.

Even so, it’s worth trying, yeah?

Yo.