Barbie Teaches Downtowns and Retailers How To Promote

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This past weekend in Long Beach a group of merchants got together with a fun promotion involving Barbie. They hosted an event that was unique, each business did something to tie-into the gimmick: Barbie. (You can see all the ways each business contributed on the back of the postcard below.)

So many times business, particularly downtown areas know they want to do "something" but do the tired, the tried, the boring. You can hear the customers as they open the paper, or grab the mailer or click the link, "Yippee - another junk sale where everyone puts their last year's castoffs on racks, drags them out to the front of their beautiful stores and cheap people paw through them looking for "bargains.' Pass."

The thing I hate about retailers doing that is that you are not attracting potential profitable customers, you are attracting the dirt scratchers. This is one step up from the "everything 20% off with coupon" or BOGOs (buy one get one free) being sold to businesses large and small as the way to market your business and drive sales.


The Barbie promotion stood out to me because it was so different, so visually eye-catching and so fun. Plus they involved EVERYONE on the street, not just retailers but even the architects.

Let's be honest, don't you wonder what "Barbie inspired drinks" would include? They did a great job promoting on their Facebook pages, direct mail and Twitter. The local paper also picked up the story.

Back in the 50's, Ruth Handler watched her daughter Barbara at play with paper dolls, and noticed that she often enjoyed giving them adult roles. At the time, most children's toy dolls were representations of babies. Realizing that there could be a gap in the market, Handler suggested the idea of an adult-bodied doll to her husband Elliot, a co-founder of the Mattel toy company. He was enthusiastic about the idea, as were Mattel's directors. They saw the opportunity to standout from all the others and an empire was born.

You want to stand out in a crowded market place? You want your downtown to be memorable instead of morose? You want to gain fans and profitable customers? Put your heads together to do something other than another junk sale and you'll find you'll make memories and sales.