When Sports Illustrated announced its 2014 swimsuit cover model, nobody could’ve predicted who they would’ve announced. Nobody would’ve batted an eye if Sports Illustrated decided to have Kate Upton or Brooklyn Decker on the cover. Instead of a living blonde bombshell, they chose to go with a plastic one in Barbie. Let that sink in for a second…BARBIE THE DOLL!!! I never thought I’d see Barbie on the cover of a Sports Illustrated for Kids, let alone the actual Sports Illustrated.
Ever since the announcement was made about Barbie being on the cover, people have not stopped talking about it. Some people absolutely love the decision, while others are totally against it. Sports Illustrated and Mattel are either marketing geniuses or marketing idiots.
I’m here to say that I think this marketing decision was not a smart one. Yes, Mattel and Sports Illustrated succeeded in getting everyone talking, but not all press is good press. Barbie was a not smart choice to have on the cover, even if she’s only on the limited edition cover. Barbie is a doll aimed for young girls. Sports Illustrated is sports magazine aimed at grown men. The average age of a Sports Illustrated reader is 36. The average Barbie user is not 36! By placing Barbie on the cover, critics claim that Sports Illustrated and Mattel are making Barbie a sexual doll. Let’s face it: the swimsuit edition is basically the equivalent of a dirty magazine. Guys are not looking at that edition to read some interesting stories. They are looking at that magazine to stare at half naked women. By putting Barbie on the cover of that magazine, what message is that sending? In my opinion, it’s not sending a positive message for our nation’s young girls.
Girls love their Barbies. Little girls look up to Barbie as a role model. They want to be just like her. Do we want our girls idolizing Barbie? Barbie has not had the best year, and this is certainly not going to help matters. A recent study by Rehabs.com, an eating disorder site, revealed Barbie’s measurements if she was a real woman. The real-life Barbie would have a 32-inch bust, a 16-inch waist, 29-inch hips, and a child’s size 3 foot. Does that sound like a healthy girl? That doesn’t sound healthy to me. That’s beyond anorexic.I wouldn’t want my daughter idolizing that. By putting Barbie in Sports Illustrated, Barbie is becoming less of a child’s toy and more of a sex symbol. Sports Illustrated and Mattel must not have thought this through when they came up with the idea of putting Barbie on the cover.
Barbie sales were down 13% last quarter, so I think Mattel is trying to generate more sales by getting people talking. Since Barbie is on the cover of the swimsuit edition, she is going to be on the minds of a lot of people. Mattel is hoping that by stirring the pot, they will see an increase in sales. The limited edition Barbie being sold at Target is Mattel’s marketing question mark. It could turn into a cash cow or it could blow up in their faces. I’m banking on the latter. I don’t see mothers running out to get their daughters a Barbie after seeing her in a bikini on the cover of Sports Illustrated. The marketing department at Mattel might know better than I, but in my opinion, this marketing strategy is going to blow up in their faces and leave Mattel in a worse position than they currently are.