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How do virtual characters stay immortal? Just take a look at Barbie!

Barbie, a plastic doll without life, not only sold billion worldwide and live the legend for over half a century! From flight attendant, doctor, rock n roller, Barbie always stays on the front-line of fashion. She has thrown on numerous outfits, broken up and made up with boyfriend, Kenny countless times. Rumors about their relationship remains a mystery, her life story far more exciting and enticing than the people who own her. All of this attributed to her manufacturer, Mattel, the company that continuously create values for its product through stories. 

Mattel not only infused life into its product, but improved greatly on its marketing schemes

Barbie announced her breakup with her boyfriend, Kenny on Valentine’s day, 2004. The two had been together for 43 years. Blaine was the one to blame, an Australian surfer lured the heart of Barbie. This year, Kenny finally broke the silence and made a plan to win back Barbie. A campaign was launched online to “rally the power of people to win back ex-girlfriend’s heart—Should Barbie take Kenny back?”

Barbie announced her breakup with her boyfriend, Kenny on Valentine’s day, 2004. The two had been together for 43 years. Blaine was the one to blame, an Australian surfer lured the heart of Barbie. This year, Kenny finally broke the silence and made a plan to win back Barbie. A campaign was launched online to “rally the power of people to win back ex-girlfriend’s heart—Should Barbie take Kenny back?”

The main page of the campaign was simple which shows the voting system and the instant result with only two choices were given, Yes or No. More people vote yes, the indicator would move towards “Ken is your soul mate”, on the other hand, if more people vote no, it’d move towards, “Don’t even consider it.”

http://barbieandken.com/

▲The illustration of the poll result

http://barbieandken.com/

What was written in Kenny’s Twitter wasn’t any promotion campaign or production information, but how much Kenny misses Barbie or asks his friends to re-tweet some nice words to Barbie’s Twitter or his favorite team, Lakers’ score, or his recommendation on the latest G.Q magazine etc. 

In addition, Kenny also registered in the famous online dating website, Match.com and filled out all the background information such as hobbies and ideal mate. Of course, there goes without saying, one of the match results for Kenny is Barbie. 

On Foursquare, the website that provides GPS service, Kenny and Barbie sign in their names wherever they go, for example, Kenny signed in when he arrived at the Mets in New York, he wrote, “Barbie could spend hours admiring a great piece of art; while I could spend hours, admiring Barbie.”

▲Kenny’s Facebook page, where the fans take it serious and write their heartfelt responses. 

http://www.facebook.com/OfficialKen#!/OfficialKen?v=wall

▲Live online show broadcasted on Hulu

http://www.hulu.com/genuine-ken-the-search-for-the-great-american-boyfriend

Mattel not only carefully molded Kenny’s virtual image, but sought to interact with consumers in the real world. A group of male models who look identical as Kenny appeared on the streets of Manhattan, playing various roles Kenny has and participated in the trendy parties. Moreover, there was a live show on the internet broadcasted on Hulu.com for users to vote for the “Genuine Ken”. They found 8 general people as contestants and showed their culinary talents, surfing skills, interior design skills in the online series. The 8 contestants competed for the title of “The Great American Boyfriend.”

From easy and accessible campaign webpage, Facebook, confession on Twitter, creating Kenny and Barbie’s traveling routes on Foursquare, profile on Match.com, real life Kenny’s trendy party to online talent show for the best boyfriend, all of which seem somewhat far-fetched for a marketing campaign for merely a plastic doll. But it’s precisely because of that, the users seem to forget that Kenny and Barbie are merely lifeless toys and treat them as real flesh and blood and give their responses or feedbacks with all seriousness. 

If a toy that could barely move could remain 20 years old forever, a online game that possesses of movement, voice and multi-media should find it easier to create more lively image in consumers’ hearts. Take a good look at Barbie, maybe you could find some answers! 

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About Author

Mika, Internet Marketing Observer

Born in the 60s, worked at strategic industry and marketing field for decades and knew all the process from brand strategy, product concept to official launch.

Mika pays close attention to marketing modes as well as the changes on Web2.0 and social media. 

Blog: jabamay.blogspot.com

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