Girls just want to have fun. And it makes no difference if the girl in question is real or made out of plastic.
This month, Mattel debuts a handful of familiar faces in its ever-growing line of celebrity Barbie dolls: country music artists Martina McBride and LeAnn Rimes, R&B/pop trio Destiny’s Child, “I Love Lucy”-era Lucille Ball (the line’s ninth “Lucy” doll) and Disney star Raven-Symone.
The philosophy behind selecting celebrities for their Barbie close-up is simple, Mattel senior marketing manager Elizabeth Grampp says: “We like to partner with the No. 1 person in his or her category.” While some of the celebrity choices are geared toward young girls (Symone, for example), others like McBride and Ball have “cross-generational appeal.”
And with Destiny’s Child’s recent breakup announcement, expect this trio of dolls to become major collectors’ items.
The first celebrity Barbie doll -- Twiggy -- appeared in the ’60s. The 2001 Cher doll remains the best seller in the Barbie line, with “tens of thousands of units sold,” according to Grampp. Through the years, the retail price for each celebrity Barbie doll has ranged between $35 and $50.
The dolls debuting this month, in stores until the end of the year, have a suggested retail price of $19.99.
Mattel VP of entertainment licensing Holly Stein works with the artists’ management and other representatives in negotiating licensing and royalty fees for each doll.
For Mattel, securing artists like Symone and the members of Destiny’s Child -- as well as Hilary Duff for its Fashion Fever line of Barbie dolls -- reinforces its relevance in the youth marketplace. The selected artists, conversely, receive licensing revenue as well as promotional juice.