Barbie Is a Career Woman Now

At least, that’s what Mattel wants you to think. And we have to admit: with marketing like this, we might be convinced, too.The company just released a new ad that rebrands the iconic doll as a source of inspiration for young girls. If your daughter plays with a Barbie, Mattel seems to be saying, she’ll grow up believing she can be anything she wants to be, whether that’s a professor, a veterinarian, or a football coach.Watch and tell us this doesn’t put a smile on your face:You may be thinking: This is cute, but what does it have to do with getting more women in leadership? A lot, in our opinion, but not for the reasons you might guess.Outlets from People to Refinery 29 are referring to the ad as “empowering,” but we think they’re missing its biggest takeaway. It’s not that Barbie dolls are inspiring young girls. (Does playing with a Barbie who wears a pantsuit have any real impact on a girl’s career ambitions twenty years down the road? Probably not.)Nope, the real story here is that we are inspiring Barbie.There was an interesting quote from a Mattel executive in Adweek that made this clear: “We want to remind the world what Barbie stands for,” said Evelyn Mazzocco, a global SVP. “Founded by a female entrepreneur and mother in 1959, the Barbie brand has always represented the fact that women have choices. This ongoing initiative is designed to remind today’s parents that through the power of imagination, Barbie allows girls to explore their limitless potential.“What Mazzocco’s really saying is: We think it’s a smart business move to call your attention to Barbie’s professional ambitions. Mattel has noticed that it’s cool for women to be intelligent and to be seen as leaders, and it wants to capitalize on that.And a shift like that from a brand that used to be all about reinforcing traditional gender norms? That’s news.