Mattel’s plans for a fall launch of its first interactive Barbie doll, Hello Barbie, may be delayed due to an unexpected obstacle: the overly privileged, silencing behavior of its partner product, Hello Ken.
“Hello Ken keeps interrupting Hello Barbie in important research meetings,” says a source connected with the focus groups leading to the impending launch. “Despite being programmed with an MBA, loads of confidence, and a winning smile, Hello Barbie just takes Hello Ken’s rude bullshit.”
The source adds, “It must be a glitch or something.”
The creative team behind Hello Barbie expressed frustration that they couldn’t adequately determine the full extent of Hello Barbie’s vocabulary and ability to interact at a high level because Hello Ken kept talking over her and repeating her ideas louder than her.
“He’s not intentionally doing anything,” says Hello Ken’s creator in a phone interview. “If Hello Barbie wants to be heard, she should speak up and make herself heard, but not too pushy about it. There’s a fine line between assertive and aggressive, and as toy makers, we’re just not sure Hello Barbie knows how to walk that line without being a bitch.”
“She’s not being a bitch,” says Hello Barbie’s creator, on the same conference call. “She’s just trying to express what she—“
“What I think should happen here,” interrupts the doll, Hello Ken, “is that we should take more time and partner Hello Barbie with either me or Hello Malibu Ken, so she has the benefit of a strong mentor, who can—“
“But I already know what I want to—“ interjects the doll, Hello Barbie.
“—And in that way we can make sure that the quality of the product will stand up to the scrutiny of the marketplace,” says Ken.
“Malibu Ken doesn’t even live here,” protests Hello Barbie, before offering that perhaps that if she must have a mentor, maybe Crystal Ken would be a better—
“I know!” says Hello Ken, slapping the table and sitting bolt upright. “What’s Crystal Ken up to these days? He’d be a perfect mentor! His ideas and thought processes are clear—crystal clear in fact. Someone get him on the phone!” Hello Ken then leans back and folds his hands behind his head. Hello Barbie sighs heavily and looks to the Mattel executives with pleading eyes, as they sit scribbling notes in their yellow legal pads.
While awaiting a return call from Crystal Ken, Mattel executives expressed trepidation about the future of Hello Barbie.
“Maybe the focus groups were right,” admits one source. “Maybe Barbie really does does belong in the home.”