Barbie gives her bosses reason to party, even in a pandemic

In the late '90s there was a brief and very mediocre hit song called Barbie Girl, in which the much-repeated and most memorable line was "Come on, Barbie, let's go party…".


It's an excruciating earworm bubblegum tune. But it's no doubt music to the ears of executives at Mattel, the US company that manufactures Barbie and a range of other toys.


Because, pandemic or not, Barbie is the one toy that is giving them cause to party a little in these tough times.

Barbie sales have risen 7% in the pandemic


While the sales of Mattel's other products have fallen 15% overall due to the pandemic – and other toy companies are no doubt experiencing something similar – demand for Barbie has actually gone up by 7%.


According to NPD, a research firm in the US that tracks the toy industry, the Barbie range was the most popular toy in America for five straight weeks.


Part of the reason for the popularity of Barbie, who still looks remarkable youthful for someone born in 1959, is the need to keep kids entertained during lockdown, says the industry publication Toy News.

Barbie has remained in tune with the times


But, given that most other toys are showing a sales decline, the key reason is likely the way in which Mattel has managed to keep the eternally young-looking lass current and in tune with the times.


Once purely an impossibly long-legged and slim blue-eyed blonde, she has since re-invented herself more times than Cher and Madonna combined.


"The popularity of Barbie shows how a well-known brand can be adjusted to fit the times," says the Bloomberg news agency.

Dolls in a variety of heights and body types


"The company has released dolls in a variety of heights and body types in recent years, including ones with disabilities," Bloomberg pointed out.


"The dolls are also more racially diverse. One-fifth of the Barbies sold as part of Mattel's Barbie Fashionista line are Black, greater than the proportion of Black people in the US population."


There are even a recent 'Thank You Heroes Collection' that honours key workers in the pandemic such as doctors and firemen.


As another line from that cringe-worthy song pointed out: "Life in plastic, it's fantastic…"