Desperately seeking Barbie

In a new Mattel Canada campaign, Ken is reaching out to his favourite doll in an attempt to reconcile on the eve of his 50th birthday.

Prince William and Kate Middleton’s relationship isn’t the only one being followed by curious celeb-watchers this winter; Ken and Barbie, who are currently not together, are also causing a stir. 

Mattel Canada has unleashed phase two of its Ken-and-Barbie breakup campaign, hinting that there may be a reconciliation in the near future.

The Ken-centric ads started showing up on transit shelters in Toronto and Montreal this week, and they will be appearing in print in Metro, Hello! Canada, Elle Canada and Fashion. There will also be TV appearances, including an eTalk integration and sponsorship billboards on CosmoTV and W Network.

Online, the Canadian and US arms of the company are sharing a website where people can vote on whether Barbie should take Ken back or not. At press time, the Love-o-Meter was at ‘Give him a chance!’

The campaign is targeted at 18- to 49-year-old women. Mattel Canada worked with Carat’s Toronto office on the buy and the digital execution, and the creative was handled internally.

The first phase of the campaign started in October, with Ken looking to meet up with Barbie at fashion weeks in Toronto and New York. The story, however, goes further back than that, to when Barbie and Ken broke up on Valentine’s Day 2004. Since then, Ken has been a swinging bachelor. Now, with his 50th birthday this year, Ken is ready to settle down, says Adriana Gut, girls’ marketing manager, Mattel Canada.

‘Ken has a special place in his heart for Barbie, and right now he’s missing her, and he’s realizing she’s the only doll for him, and he’s trying to do everything in his power right now to win her back,’ she says.

The ads, in which Ken reaches out to Barbie, will run until March. The following two phases of the campaign will play out later this year, with an expected resolution by the end of 2011.

‘Our campaign is really to continue that noise we’ve established in the marketplace since Barbie celebrated her 50th anniversary in 2009,’ Gut says. ‘What we wanted to do this year is really engage the public and let them be a part of a moment in pop culture history.’