What's New in Public Relations

November 16, 2011

Dreams Come True for Ken … and PR Firms

Filed under: Public Relations Posts — Carlie @ 11:09 pm

In 2004, the world was heartbroken to find out that Barbie and Ken, after being together for forty-three years, had parted ways. Barbie had taken up with newly-release Blaine, and Ken was left on his own.

After seven years apart, Ken decided in early 2011, just in time for his 50th anniversary, that he wanted Barbie back. But what’s a guy to do when it seems as though the doll of his dreams has moved on?

Mattel used this campaign to revamp interest in Barbie and Ken all over the world and to a wide variety of audiences. After a successful 50th anniversary campaign for Barbie in 2009, they continued to use social media to create interest in the reunion. Ken tweeted frequently about how much he missed his girlfriend of forty-three years and Facebook updates kept fans aware of the stunts he pulled to win Barbie back. While Foursquare let everyone know where his latest event was going on, YouTube videos  showed him filling out a dating profile and finding Barbie as his perfect match. All of these social media platforms led fans to a website (no longer active) asking fans to vote on whether or not the couple should reunite.

But the campaign was more than just viral. In the real world, billboards above the busy streets of New York and LA announced Ken’s goal of winning Barbie back and specially commissioned cupcakes from a popular bakery in New York City showed off Barbie’s favourite colours. But my two favourite part of the campaign happened right here in Canada.

First off, a number of reporters for lifestyle and consumer publications “accidentally” received packages containing roses, a love letter from Ken to Barbie, and a newly-released Sweet-Talking Ken doll with a message saying how badly he wanted to get back together with his “favourite doll”. A message was then sent from a publicist for Ken, apologizing for the mix-up and begging for their help in reuniting him with Barbie. What an amazing way for Mattel to get journalists intrigued for the campaign!

Then, models hired for their resemblance to Ken were hired to spend time in Toronto’s Union Station, meeting with travellers to hand out flowers and pins that proclaimed “I Love Barbie”. My every dream from childhood would have been fulfilled if I had been in Union Station that day!  (Who are we kidding, my every dream from today would have been fulfilled if I’d been there!)

In Toronto alone, the publicity from these events was outstanding. According to the PR firm that staged the events, “Ken” was interviewed on several television and radio shows all over Ontario and many newspapers (print and online) published stories about the events. It also showed that Barbie and Ken are both up to date in the social media-conscious world that we live in today. But media aside, did it really work? Did Ken manage to win back his dream doll?

It turns out that dreams really do come true – Barbie and Ken reunited on Valentines Day, February 14, 2011. Barbie updated her relationship status on Facebook to “In A Relationship” and Ken set the bar at a completely unattainable height for any future guy hoping to get back with their ex!


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