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Case Studies


Barbie’s 50th Birthday PR campaign

Barbie’s 50th Birthday PR campaign

Best practice from Ogilvy PR, London.


2009 marks the 50th birthday of the world’s favourite doll. With celebrations planned around the world throughout the year Mattel asked Ogilvy PR London to help kick off the party in Europe with a big bang at the International Toy Fair, Nuremberg.


Create a moment in time to focus broadcast media attention across Europe on Barbie’s 50th anniversary

Dominate the news agenda at the toy industry’s biggest event, the International Toy Fair, Nuremberg


The strategy was to combine compelling broadcast content with innovative digital tools, including a social media press release created by Ogilvy PR’s Digital Influence team, to provide the media around the world with an engaging story package in a timely and user friendly way.

Ogilvy PR worked with Mattel to create a ‘moment in time’ at Nuremburg, where the media would be invited to focus on the Barbie stand and Ogilvy PR’s film crew would be able to capture some great footage that tells the Barbie birthday story.

Using footage of five models styled to look just like Barbie over five decades celebrating on the Barbie stand at Nuremberg, combined with carefully selected archive material Ogilvy PR provided European broadcasters with compelling visuals to tell the story of Barbie’s 50th birthday.

This footage was supplemented with spokesperson interviews at Nuremberg and in each of the participating markets.

Senior Mattel executives Brian Stockton and Richard Dickson participated in live interviews with pan European networks from the Barbie stand while Barbie collectors and enthusiasts (and of course their dolls) in key markets ‘on location’ and ‘on the couch’ interviews with news and lifestyle programmes.

Great content alone however is not sufficient to meet an objective like ‘dominate the news agenda’, the media need to receive the content quickly and in a very user friendly format.

To distribute the footage to media across Europe as efficiently as possible Ogilvy PR created a ‘social media platform’ to host a press release and broadcast quality video content (pre-event b-roll, event b-roll and pre-edited video).

The landing page also provided links to editorial content on Barbie and to drive traffic to and raise awareness of Barbie’s media portal. The social media platform ensured that broadcast quality content could be distributed to multiple broadcasters quickly and efficiently.

Giving journalists instant access to compelling footage also helped to sell in the story as they could see straight away how the news package could take shape. The social media platform received over 900 views by journalists in 30 days. The story was also marketed through Twitter to at least 5,000 followers.

Measurement and Evaluation

Barbie’s 50th anniversary was the story to come out of the International Toy Fair, Nuremberg. Coverage appeared in more than 70 TV and online media outlets, highlights include reports on CNN (live), CNBC (live) and BBC World as well as coverage on almost all major news networks in the target markets (Sweden, Denmark, Norway, the Netherlands, Finland and Belgium).

Coverage extended way beyond the target markets with Ogilvy PR’s footage also appearing on TV and online in China, France, Venezuela, Australia, USA, Italy, Germany, France and the UK.

The story generated over 3 hours 20 minutes of coverage, reached an audience of over 178 million and delivered an ROI of 17:1


Retailers across Europe were very positive and enthusiastic about all the attention that Barbie received around at the International Toy Fair.

Local Barbie websites in the six key European markets received 290,000 website hits each in February and March. Barbie sales have increased by 8 per cent following the 50th Birthday Campaign.

“According to the media we are in touch with, you managed to draw huge media attention to Barbie’s jubilee. Great job!” Kyra Mende, Press Officer, International Toy Fair, Nuremburg

Five models styled to look like Barbie over her five decades, showing how she has adapted to rapidly changing times and retained her crown as queen of fashion.

See a video of this campaign here.


For world-class PR and social media training courses, speak to the experts at The Knowledge Engineers.

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