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Treetop Barbie March 5, 2009

Posted by David Gillespie in branding, marketing, philosophy, politics, work/life.
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On the subway this morning I was watching the below TED talk by Nalini Nadkarni on her work as an ecologist, studying life in the canopies of rainforests. It’s a great talk which i recommend you check out, my favourite part though was her institution’s appropriation of every girl’s favourite doll, Barbie.

They buy them from thrift stores and other cheap outlets then hand-sew costumes for them and send them out. They’re also available for purchase which makes me wish I had cousins who were young enough to get one for!

A few thoughts:

  • I love the appropriation of a classic symbol, recast with new meaning in this day and age
  • Is this brand-jacking? Maybe, but not in a way that casts the original in a bad light
  • If I were Mattel I would be all over this. Nalini’s group send a booklet out with each Barbie on the work they do, Mattel could release a whole line of eco-warrior Barbie, created entirely from renewable materials in a series of different guises. Sea-Rescue Barbie, Treetop Barbie…Ivory Coast Barbie? (ouch!)

I’m wondering about other campaigns, brands, products, services, whatever. Major symbols like Barbie that can be given new purpose in an eco-aware age. There’s a lot of chatter right now on how green issues will be cast aside as people just try to hang on to their homes, I’m hoping initiatives like this might manage to keep it front of mind for people.

This post is also a special dedicatuion to Alex White, one of my best friends and a tireless eco-warrior himself. He gets married to an extraodinary woman (hi Fern!) tomorrow, a wedding I am sadly not in Australia for. Mate, I love you to absolute pieces and am sorry I can’t be there to share your special day. I cannot wait to hear about it, watch the videos and catch up when I’m back home at the end of the year.

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Comments»

1. Jeremy - March 6, 2009

I can see it now, “Tassie Barbie…made from her brothers and sisters”. Jokes aside, it would be rather positive to see Mattel produce a range of Barbies made from recycled materials. A nice post for a friday DG, well done.


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