Ken Changed his Facebook Status to In a Relationship
By Alexandra Lue, Intern
Mattel Inc. has taken brand imaging to another level. After seven years apart, America’s favorite couple is back “together again.” On the most romantic day of the year, Valentine’s Day, Barbie and Ken announced that they are officially a couple again.
Mattel Inc. celebrates Ken’s 50th anniversary by rekindling the love affair after an unexpected breakup in 2004, when Barbie decided they needed some time apart and began dating the Australian surfer named Blaine.
Barbie and Ken have been grabbing headlines on breakups, trendsetting styles and a love that has lasted five decades.
Over the years, Ken wore many hats- an Olympian, pilot, business man, but always played the “first man” to his leading lady, Barbie. Ken fell behind as a fashion icon, and Mattel Inc. allowed him to become sort of a geek. After several years of the low-key, behind the scenes role, Ken stole the spotlight in 2010’s two Oscar-winning film, Toy Story 3 while sporting his very boyish American urbanity makeover.
Mattel Inc.’s urge to make Ken fresh and relevant started with his “Hollywood makeover” in 2006 from celebrity stylist Phillip Bloch, as a failed attempt to win back Barbie. Another modern tactic was giving into the social media frenzy by creating Facebook and Twitter pages for Ken. On billboards across Manhattan and Los Angeles, Ken professed his love with messages like “Barbie, we may be plastic, but our love is real” and “Barbie, you’re the only doll for me.”
In the age of reality TV, where every celebrity has a dating show in search for love, it would be only right for America’s most famous bachelor to inspire one, right? In January, Hulu launched a reality television series called “Genuine Ken: The Search for the Great American Boyfriend,” where eight “Ken-testants” compete in cooking, style, and home décor challenges to claim the title of the “ultimate boyfriend.” Although Mattel has proclaimed they are aiming for an older demographic other than Barbie’s core preschool and grade school group, the show targets 18-34 year old woman who reminisce playing with fashion dolls and not meant to reach the younger crowd.
The plastic icon’s image has finally removed himself from behind Barbie’s shadow which has ultimately allowed him to have a major breakthrough in the toy market. Now, Ken is recognized as a major American character and you can thank Mattel Inc. for that.