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March 09, 2009

Don’t Mess With Our Icons!

Barbie Judging from the drubbing experienced by Tropicana’s new packaging, Main Street has limited appetite for radical rebranding in an economic downturn. (Tropicana announced that within weeks it will be bringing back the familiar cartons showing a drinking straw emanating from an orange.)

Just when consumers seem to be clamoring for the comfortable brands of their youth, another American icon is getting a makeover. In honor of the 50th birthday of Barbie, Mattel is trying to breathe new life into the brand with the launch of – we kid you not – “Totally Stylin' Tattoos Barbie.”

Some blogging parents, along with industry brand-watchers, are questioning whether this is the right approach for a dose of fresh vitality. The LA Times quotes Lin Burress, editor of the parenting blog Telling It Like It Is: "It's just one more thing being added to the pile of junk, like push-up bras and Bratz dolls, being marketed to these ridiculously young kids. These so-called toys just create a sense of rebellion."

The Times reminds us that Barbie is no stranger to controversy: Butterfly Art Barbie (vintage 1999) had a butterfly tattoo on her stomach. Sales of the new doll are beating projections, say the toymaker. More here.

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About This Blog

Brand extensions are all around us — clothing from the Sierra Club, furniture polish from Steinway and, yes, even the kitchen sink from Jacuzzi. TippingSprung, a New York-based brand-extension consultancy, publishes an annual survey on brand extensions with Brandweek. If you spot a noteworthy extension for the blog or survey, email us.

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