The Barbie Phenomenon

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The Barbie Phenomenon

The Barbie phenomenon took the world by storm. The creation of the eleven and one–half-inch tall “glam gal” didn’t begin at a large corporation’s drawing board, as some might think. She actually came straight from the hands of her loving “parents”, Ruth and Elliot Handler. The Mattel Corporation, founded by Ruth and Elliot Handler, has successfully marketed the Barbie doll for over four decades and still continues to sell the doll throughout the world. It is amazing the impact this “child’s toy” has had in both the corporate boardroom and the toy room, and not only on children but also adults. Barbie has brought billons in sales to the bottom line of Mattel, and to adults around the world who have made substantial investments in Barbie collections. Interestingly enough, had it not been for the persistence of one woman, Barbie might never have been born.

Ruth Handler was born the youngest of ten children and began her career working as a stenographer at Paramount Pictures. Her husband, Elliot was born into a family with four brothers and worked as a light fixture designer before returning to school to get his art degree (Lord 20). In 1937 the couple decided to take their first big gamble in life. They both quit their jobs and moved from their home in Denver, Colorado, to start their own business in Southern California (Lord 18). “They opened their own home-based business building plexi-glass furniture in their garage” (West Interview). Soon after World War II began, the Handlers expanded their business into what used to be a laundromat, and hired workers to help in their new factory making jewelry, candle holders, and other plastic items (Lord 20). Then around 1945, Mr. and Mrs. Handler de...

... middle of paper ... the times and with the latest technology. She has new electronic games where players can choose to discuss careers, shopping, dating, or parties with her, and her own web site. She has also been the proud recipient of a brain (“New Barbie” 1). “Talk with Me” Barbie was just recently unveiled who can actually hold a conversation with a real human being. Barbie can now even wish a girl happy birthday, but she just can’t seem to blow out the candles (“New Barbie” 1)-- yet. What does this mere eleven and one-half-inch beauty mean to Mattel? The company realized over $1.5 billion in sales in 1999 in more than 150 countries worldwide (“Barbie Overview”1). And considering all of the books and videos marketed to attract the adult collectors that have grown up with Barbie over the last four decades, it doesn’t look like her popularity is going to fade anytime soon.
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