Mattel was put in the hot seat recently during a brief interview that was part of a larger editorial published on February 6th, 2019 over on The Cut [via RedState], where they were asked about the current run of Barbie, which has seen a surprising amount of growth in 2018 after posting losses in 2017.
During a brief retrospective on some of the initiatives Mattel has taken to boost the Barbie brand throughout 2018 – including a rapidly-growing Instagram account that already has more than a million followers, and a YouTube vlog series – The Cut decided to outright ask Barbie senior vice-president Lisa McKnight if Barbie is finally embracing the label as a “feminist”, and McKnight wisely side-stepped the question, with the outlet writing…
“When I ask McKnight if Barbie is a feminist, there’s a long pause. “I’m trying to think of the right way to phrase this,” she says. “Barbie is about equality and empowerment.” Another celebrity with a complicated relationship to feminism. No wonder she’s so popular.”
It should come as no surprise that McKnight wanted to avoid that label at all costs for appearance purposes.
While earlier in the interview McKnight may have gushed ever-so-slightly about some online outlets calling Barbie “woke”, she avoided saying anything more than that…
“I love that she was called out as a woke influencer (by babe.net, granted), that she loves avocado toast, and is going to all these interesting galleries.”
That’s as far as Mattel’s staff goes in talking about Barbie’s alignment with any sort of sociopolitical ideology, which is effectively nil.
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But this is definitely a calculated maneuver.
A lot of young women – especially the ones that Mattel seems to be targeting – don’t even consider themselves feminist, as reported by The Independent. The outlet covered a survey carried out by Refinery29 and CBS News involving 2,093 women who were asked about their views regarding sociopolitics…
“A staggering 54 per cent of young women in the US responded they they do not consider themselves proponents of the movement for gender equality whereas 46 per cent said they did identify as “feminist”.”
Oftentimes the label is attributed to radicalism and propaganda-style activism, which has backfired multiple times on big businesses trying to utilize the trend for market reach. A perfect example of that is Sony and the 2016 reboot-sequel of Ghostbusters, which tanked at the box office and found its way onto the Get Woke; Go Broke Master List.
It’s easy to see why some companies would want to avoid attaching their brand to a label that carries around that kind of marketplace baggage.
What’s more is that just a day before The Cut published their lengthy editorial where Mattel side-stepped the feminist label, Investor Place posted a report on Mattel’s fourth-quarter earnings from 2018, which actually beat the market forecasts.
During the fourth quarter they were actually up $14.90 million in 2018 compared to a $281 million net loss back in 2017. They also saw an overall operating income of $107 million during the fourth quarter of 2018 compared to an operating loss of $251 million back in the fourth quarter of 2017.
Part of the downturn came from the Star Wars line of figurines and toys, which not only affected Mattel but also caused a massive plummet in Disney’s revenue within the toys and games department.
Nevertheless, as the Investor Place article states, Mattel saw strong performance in the Barbie brand last year…
“Mattel notes that it saw strong performance for some of its brands during the quarter. This includes Barbie sales increasing by 14% and Hot Wheels sales increasing by 7%. However, Fisher-Price and Thomas & Friends sales were down by 13% from the same time in 2017.”
Mattel seems to be wisely navigating away from the current battlefield wasteland where the culture wars are taking place.
Sure, Mattel is still including “diversity” in its toy line-up and pushing Barbie into a variety of fields, including STEM, but they obviously are reticent to outright label Barbie a feminist, especially since a lot of people outside of the Left-wing culture sphere see it as a movement more-so aimed at hating men rather than advocating for women’s rights, as reported by Marketplace.
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Don’t think that this kind of feminist-draft dodging by Mattel has gone unnoticed by the Intersectional Inquisition.
Social Justice outlet, Kveller, published a piece back on May 3rd, 2018 criticizing Mattel for only using “progressivism” and “feminism in appearance only while still using Barbie’s blonde hair, blue eyes, and slender figure to sell beauty to little girls who obviously don’t want to look like the kind of archetype peddled around by extreme Leftists on places like Tumblr…
“Regardless of Mattel’s steps forward — with “curvy Barbie” and a more diverse array of offerings — Barbie the brand has yet to take ownership their role helping perpetuating a culture that is fixated on promoting a feminine ideal of thin, blonde, and white.”
Opposite of companies who decided to “get woke” and then eventually “go broke”, it appears Mattel is staying out of the culture war — or at least approaching it at arm’s length — in order to appear “woke” while avoiding going broke. In other words, Mattel is being a good capitalist.