News “broke” yesterday of a very smart social media marketing campaign by Mattel – Ken, the apparently “ex” boyfriend doll of Barbie, the iconic doll that’s a staple of American culture, is courting her via various online and social activities, trying to win her back. So far the campaign appears to be centered on Facebook, where it’s largely focused on tapping into Barbie’s nearly 1.7 million fans (poor Ken rates only 27K).
Character-based profiles on social media sites aren’t new, though their success can vary. It largely depends on how committed the brand is to staying true to the character voice, if they stick with the effort beyond a short-lived campaign, and how well they capture the elements of the character that appeal most to fans.
Mattel seems to be hitting well on each of those elements with Barbie, and it’s a smart move to turn Barbie’s attention to her on-again, off-again significant other Ken in order to create a bit of online drama that her fans can eagerly connect with (after all, this effort might be all about building the Ken brand anew, but it will the strength of Barbie’s fan base that makes it happen).
It’s apparently a useful vehicle for Mattel to work in partner promotions, as evidenced by the recent posts promoting Match.com and The Magnolia Bakery. I’d also be interested to see how and if this campaign gets tied into the “Genuine Ken” reality show.
As this campaign extends out over Twitter and Foursquare, to compliment the current Facebook and video/TV efforts, it’s shaping up to be a fun example of a solid multi-network social media campaign.