TORONTO: Mattel, the toy manufacturer, has continued the successful reinvention of its Barbie brand via an initiative that championed dads who play with their daughters.

Lisa McKnight, SVP/Global Brand General Manager for Barbie, discussed this topic at a session held by the World Federation of Advertisers (WFA) and Association of Canadian Advertisers (ACA) at the 2017 Global Marketer Week.

And she referenced the "Dads Who Play Barbie" campaign, which made its debut on TV during the NFL playoffs earlier this year.

More specifically, its first spot featured a classic "man's man" admitting he often turned his attention away from football games on the TV screen to play with Barbie dolls with his daughter.

"Our intent was to expand our reach – and be more inclusive with dads," said McKnight. (For more details, read WARC's free-to-access report: Mattel continues Barbie's brand makeover.)

Alongside TV, the campaign spanned cinema, print and digital advertising. And it attracted significant media interest, as well as being met with considerable consumer enthusiasm on social media.

The initiative was based on more than touchy-feely family sharing, as it had substantive grounding in deep research into the benefits of strong relationships between fathers and daughters.

"Through some inside work with a couple of universities, we found that girls who have a very positive relationship with their fathers, or their father figures, in their younger years have much more self-esteem and self-confidence as they move into their adult years," said McKnight. "That's a definite connection to their emotional development."

From January to March, the campaign secured over 230 feature placements in media and 650m media impressions across social and traditional channels – results building on momentum from earlier efforts to modernise the Barbie brand.

But perhaps the "best proof points" from the "Dads Who Play Barbie" campaign's early returns, McKnight reported, have been "the social engagement that we've had with real dads posting real images, real commentaries, and real stories about their experiences playing with their daughters. It's creating positive sentiment and impact."

Data sourced from WARC