This Guy Saved Barbie From Cultural Extinction He Did It By Asking The Big Question.

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How do you save a brand that everyone knows, but not everyone likes?

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Paul Bruinoge | Patrick McMullen | Getty Images

Back in 2014, toy company Mattel needed an answer to that question — fast. It owns popular brands like Hot Wheels and Fisher-Price, but one of its consistent best-selling products has long been Barbie. The tall, blond doll enjoyed ubiquity for more than half a century, but her popularity was waning. To many, Barbie had come to represent outdated standards of beauty and gender norms, and sales fell 20% in just the past two years. So the company called Richard Dixon, a former Mattel executive who had left to run a fashion brand, and asked him to come back and save the famous doll. “We were in a real moment of truth around the continued evolution of the brand,” Dixon says. But he saw a way forward: He would double down on the brand’s deeper mission, and then use it to guide several big changes. As a result, since that pivotal moment, Barbie sales have more than doubled. The brand had its best year ever in 2021, and is on track for more growth in 2022. Here, Dixon explains how he did it—and why he says that “growth makes a brand relevant, purpose makes a brand immortal.”

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