How a Ken doll turned an ‘epic fail’ for Mattel (and an icon for variety)

This text was translated from our Spanish version utilizing AI applied sciences. Errors could exist on account of this course of.

Nobody can doubt that Mattel is among the nice toy manufacturers on the earth and that its merchandise have been current within the childhoods of many adults who immediately devour merchandise that enchantment to nostalgia.


Mattel’s success dates again to 1959 when founder Ruth Handler launched the world to the primary mannequin of what would grow to be the best-selling doll in historical past : Barbie .

Because the Sixties, the corporate has applied varied campaigns that search to take care of the curiosity of the ever-changing kids’s market on the wrist. On this means, Barbie has had 135 professions, has modeled designs of the best artists on the earth of trend and has included sisters like Skipper and Stacie.

Nonetheless, one of the crucial curious chapters of the doll, which has greater than 100,000 registered collectors , occurred within the 90s when Baribe’s long-suffering boyfriend, Ken, was concerned in an issue that led him to be one of many best-selling fashions within the historical past of Mattel.

In 1993 the corporate introduced the Earring Magic Barbie line that sought to point out Barbie and her pals with a extra avant-garde look with trendy garments and extra stylized hairstyles.

Particularly, the Ken of this line had blonde highlights in his hair, a purple shirt with a lavender vest, an earring in his left ear and a golden round earring. This element would unleash recognition and controversy in numerous markets.

In accordance with Matt Haig’s e book Model Failures: The Fact in regards to the 100 Greatest Branding Errors of All Time , Mattel had performed a survey to see if women believed Ken was fashionable sufficient to stay “Barbie’s boyfriend.” The outcomes confirmed that the shoppers beloved Ken, however wished him to be cooler .

It was then that Mattel had Ken redesigned primarily based on the artists of the movies that the ladies began on MTV with all that that entailed: tight pants, a Maya shirt and a leather-based vest.

Ken’s new picture fell in love … however with an unplanned viewers.

Picture: eBay

The Ken who turned the usual bearer of the LGBT neighborhood

The Earring Magic Barbie line was launched with the total assist of Mattel’s advertising and marketing, however quickly a number of parenting teams in America started to complain that this “coolest” Ken was truly a “stereotypical homosexual in disguise.”

The garments, the design of the hair and particularly the ring across the doll’s neck (which some in comparison with sure intercourse toys) led homosexual males of the 90s to purchase the Earring Magic Ken mannequin in report numbers. Some sources like Buzzfeed even declare that he’s the best-selling Ken within the historical past of Mattel.

The doll’s recognition throughout the LGBT neighborhood even prompted iconic sexual minority rights fighter Dan Savage to make a robust essay selling the toy.
It isn’t identified for positive if this mannequin is the best-selling Ken within the historical past of the model, however what did occur is that Mattel shortly took the doll off the market and, based on an article in The Chicago Reader newspaper, it shortly turned He apologized for the error as clearly his intention was to not make a doll with sexual connotations . Paradoxically, it’s well-known that Bild Lilli , the doll that Ruth Handler relied on to make Barbie, was an grownup toy in Germany.

At present the Earring Magic Ken is a collector’s merchandise that sells for prime costs at on-line auctions on websites like eBay .

25 years away, it appears simple to chortle at Mattel’s mistake when designing this doll, however, because the How Stuff Works portal says, it have to be remembered that at the moment popular culture was flooded with stars like Prince and Proper Mentioned Fred .