Kristina Duncan And The Reinvention Of A Cultural Icon
Duncan, who oversees global marketing for Mattel’s Barbie brand, discusses the seismic shift effort she spearheaded to drive business and change perception of the too-perfect Barbie.
by Alan Hart
Posted on 08-11-2017
As part of an ongoing series of conversations with 2017 Effie-winning marketers, I spoke with Kristina Duncan, who, as vice president for global marketing communications at Mattel, oversees all global branding, advertising, retail merchandising, and digital creative for the Barbie brand.
Among our talking points, we discussed the “Imagine the Possibilities” campaign, which aimed to drive business and change perception for the Barbie brand. To accomplish those goals, Duncan and her team had to orchestrate a seismic shift to reintroduce and recommunicate the brand to consumers.
They also used this succinct statement as a guide: “The brand exists to inspire and nurture the limitless potential in all girls.” (You can witness the delight the campaign delivered at the end of this article.)
In addition, Duncan identified and discussed the key trait responsible for her success. “I’ve always seen myself as someone who loves to be a great partner and loves to partner with great creatives and smart people,” she said. “That sort of idea of the ultimate collaboration is when I’ve seen the most success and when I’ve had the most fun in my career.”
Highlights from this week’s “Marketing Today” podcast include:
- Perceptions the brand faced as not a great modern role model. (1:39)
- The key insight: When girls are playing with the Barbie doll, they are imagining everything they can be in the future. (2:41)
- Aligning on a purpose: “We just knew it was our moment.” (5:10)
- A new way of working: Creating a movement versus just an ad. (8:56)
- Creating global relevance—across cultures—for Barbie. (10:40)
- Brands Duncan admires and why. (15:47)
- How Duncan ensures “we are a mirror to the world around us.” (17:07)
- Marketers’ reality: A world of blurred lines when communicating with consumers. (19:23)
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