58 years ago today, Barbara Millicent Roberts made her debut at the American Toy Fair in New York City. Also known as Barbie, she stood 11 inches tall, sported blond hair and wore a black and white swimsuit, complete with accessories like sunglasses, high-heeled shoes, and hoop earrings.
Ruth Handler, cofounder of Mattel, created Barbie after seeing her young daughter ignore her baby dolls and play make-believe with paper dolls of adult women. Handler named her new doll after her daughter, and it became the first doll in the US with an adult body.
Barbie debuted at an opportune time - the 1950s saw the post-war boom and the rise of the suburban middle class. Children were becoming a new group of citizens called “teenagers,” and television was taking off as an advertising medium. In 1955, Mattel became the first company to air commercial sports to children with its sponsorship of the “Mickey Mouse Club.” Mattel used its sponsorship to introduce Barbie to America.
As I read the news this week that Wieden and Kennedy and ESPN were parting ways after a 25 year partnership, I kept thinking, “follow me, follow me to freedom”. W+K was responsible for the long running “This is SportsCenter” campaign, among other great work for ESPN. The campaign, which began in 1994, mixed sports, celebrity, and a behind-the-scenes look at the high-rated sports news program.
“Follow me to freedom” comes from one of my favorite spots in the campaign. In this spot, SportsCenter’s production team engages in a Y2K test. Things don’t go well, and in seconds, alarms sound, the lights go out, athletes loot the place. Mark McGwire takes a baseball bat to a computer. Jonathan, the University of Connecticut mascot, a dog, absconds with some awards. The show’s announcers read highlights by candlelight.
We have celebrated Team USA medals across a range of sports and margins of victory during the Olympics. Some Olympians were household names before they won, some will be in our homes for weeks to come thanks to Special K cereal boxes.
I have noticed that most of the medal winners were born well before the cover songs used in so many Olympic spots were released. One of the first spots to grab my attention used a cover of Cyndi Lauper’s “True Colors.”
March is said to come in like a lion and go out like a lamb.
Here on the east coast, March usually starts with cold, windy and rainy weather, and ends mild and pleasant. This year has been no different.
Recently, I came in from an early March night – a very cold, very rainy one. I turned on the TV and as I was peeling off my soggy, wet shoes, I saw that Craig Kilborn was back on TV, as the spokesperson for the new and improved Kraft Mac and Cheese.