Short List
CategoryB10. Launch / Re-launch
Media Placement CARAT Melbourne, AUSTRALIA

The Campaign

As the saying goes: you can’t be what you can’t see. Our solution to this societal problem and to Barbie’s reputational issues was to create Never Before Barbie - a bespoke, limited-edition range of dolls aimed at inspiring Australian girls to believe they can be anything. These Barbies were visible demonstrations of change and could become a role model for girls to aspire to once again. The dolls were based on six high-profile Australian roles that had never been occupied by a woman, shining a light on the lack of gender diversity in leadership positions across the country and allowing young girls to visualise themselves in these roles. The 6 roles included: Chairperson of the AFL Barbie, Commissioner of the Australian Federal Police Barbie, Governor of the Australian Reserve Bank Barbie, Head of ASIO Barbie, President of the Australian Olympic Committee Barbie, and First Woman on the Moon Barbie.


Never Before Barbie was launched to create a conversation about the lack of gender diversity in senior leadership roles in Australia. But Barbie doesn’t have a voice of her own, so we needed someone else to speak for her. The trailblazing Ita Buttrose, Australia’s First Female News Editor, shared her story as one of Australia’s first Never Before’s. A package of her interview, along with Never Before Barbie dolls, were shared with media desks and seeded across social media. Beyond discussion in media, we also engaged organizations linked to our dolls, and reached out to other ‘Firsts’ and influential women with strong voices in media and social channels. This included bespoke kits including letters and Never Before Barbie dolls. Most importantly, dolls were sent to kids across Australia. We wanted that visible role model to be in the hands of those that mattered most.

Never Before Barbie got Australia talking, with the conversation front of mind for media and consumers nation-wide. The campaign launched with Barbie gracing the front cover of Stellar* magazine and STM magazine for the first time in her history. A feature story ran across News Corp (national media publisher) mastheads in key states across print and online, driving awareness and conversation at cafes, workplaces and watercoolers nationwide. Following the launch of the campaign, targeted media and influencer engagement resulted in coverage across all the major free to air network’s breakfast TV programs (Sunrise, TODAY and Studio 10), significant coverage across TV news and further pick up online and on radio. In addition, social content featuring Ita Buttrose introduced the campaign and Never Before Barbie roles, extending the discussion and longevity of the campaign, with awareness and conversation around workplace inequality remaining prominent long after the campaign launch. In total, the campaign achieved: - 100 pieces of media and social coverage and 224 syndications - Cumulative reach of 28,093,041 (Australian population 24.13m) - 97% of content was on-message - Significant social discussion, resulting in 44,486 total engagements (comments, shares) at a positive sentiment rate of 98% - Equivalent ad value totalling $1,159,371 All achieved on a total campaign budget of $221,818, providing Mattel with an ROI of 5:1.

The Situation

Never Before Barbie was born from identifying a conversation that Australians needed to have. Therefore it was only fitting that the campaign was one that was intended to drive conversation through earned media. The campaign was entirely incumbent on embedding earned media principles in to the strategy and execution to spark the conversation we were hoping for, with no traditional above-the-line advertising other than a one-off full page ad. Media and influencer engagement drove the campaign’s significant results.

The Strategy

“My whole philosophy of Barbie was that, through the doll, the little girl could be anything she wanted to be.” Ruth Handler, Barbie Creator. Poignant as that statement was, workplace equality unfortunately remains out of reach for many Australian women. Only 16.5% of CEOs are women, 29.7% of management positions are held by women, as are only 24.9% of all board positions. Such inequality is debated across news as it touches a sore point in Australia’s culture of ‘a fair go’. Barbie, as a symbol that ‘You Can Be Anything’, has always shown what girls can be. A pilot, gamer or chef. Roles that woman ‘have’ been before. But she has never represented what girls haven’t been. We wanted to take all the cultural meaning that Barbie represents, and turn her into a weapon to talk about this uncomfortable societal truth. A conversation Mum will respect us for starting.


Name Company Position
Chedney Rodgers Mattel Marketing Director
Andrew Graham Mattel Senior Brand Manager
Amanda Flynn Mattel Brand Manager
Amelia Lachal Mattel Marketing Coordinator
James McGrath Clemenger BBDO Melbourne Creative Chairman
Richard Williams Clemenger BBDO Melbourne Creative Director
Anthony Phillips Clemenger BBDO Melbourne Creative Director
Paige Prettyman Clemenger BBDO Melbourne Group Business Director
Kelly Brigham Clemenger BBDO Melbourne Project Director
Matt Pearce Clemenger BBDO Melbourne Planning Director
Craig Bulman Clemenger BBDO Melbourne Head of Print and Studio
Patrick Rivera Clemenger BBDO Melbourne Print Studio Artist
Juan Rodriguez Clemenger BBDO Melbourne Designer
Joel Morgan Flare Productions Content Producer
Brie Stewart Clemenger BBDO Melbourne Head of Social
Giselle Boxer Clemenger BBDO Melbourne Social Strategist
Casey Henderson Clemenger BBDO Melbourne Social Media Manager
Nick Zonnios Clemenger BBDO Melbourne PR Director
Jessica Lucas Clemenger BBDO Melbourne PR Manager
Belinda Ear Clemenger BBDO Melbourne PR Executive