Honestly I had no idea that these two icons had even broken up. It turns out however, that Ken Carson and Barbie Roberts (yes, they did have last names) have been an on-and-off thing one since they first met in 1961. Things were not well at the Barbie dream house apparently. In fact, in 2004 Mattel issued a press release stating that they were going to spend some time apart, and as we all know it’s not true until the press release has been issued. According to the barbieandken.com website Barbie had actually started dating an Aussie surfer named Blaine.
Now in 2011, on the 50th anniversary of the debut on the Ken doll, and after a triumphant return in Toy Story 3 he’s back and he’s looking to win Barbie’s heart again, and he’s looking to do it just in time Valentine’s Day.
Mattel has created a website at barbieandken.com where visitors are asked “Should Barbie take Ken back?”. Ken hopes that enough people say ‘Yes’ and that the Love-o-meter goes all the way to the ‘Soulmate’ status. Mattel has also created new profiles for Ken on Facebook, Twitter and Foursquare and are the inspiration behind a new reality series Genuine Ken, a Search for the Great American Boyfriend. Oh, by the way there is a new Sweet Talking Ken doll available in stores, with the striking look and physique which makes Justin Bieber look like the Incredible Hulk. (sorry Biebs)
The streams on the various platforms are a combination of promotion and cute interaction between the two characters. Ken leaves a tip on Foursquare as he reminisces about better times, “Barbie was a little afraid of heights, but I held her hand the entire time during our ferris wheel ride. A little kiss always helps calm the nerves.” Or we see Barbie tweet, “No better distraction for me during this whole @OfficialKen business than #NYFW. See you at the shows!”
Finding Barbie on Match.com
While the campaign is very clever there is one thing that pops out at me. First of all, who is this campaign aimed at? It certainly isn’t the young girls who would be playing with them. It seems to me that this is targeted at adult users of these social media platforms, which begins to make sense as these are the people that will be buying the dolls for their daughters, nieces or younger family members.
It turns out the dolls were already appearing in stores a week before Valentine’s Day in boxes emblazoned with the message ‘She Said Yes!’. It would have been fun to see coordinated events happening in stores on the Saturday morning prior to Valentine’s Day, providing discounts on the dolls to people who check in on Foursquare of Facebook Places. Encourage tweeting and Facebook status updates, as well as uploading and tagging photos from the events to their profiles on Facebook.
Seems, you can’t keep anything secret these days. Good luck Ken on sorting out the ‘It’s Complicated’ relationship status.
Update: It’s Valentine’s Day and Barbie did say Yes! To celebrate Ken and his Kentourage appeared at Toronto’s Union Station handing out pink roses in celebration of his new relationship status. The current campaign will run until March and there is a plan for two more phases yet to go in 2011.