FourSquare Toys With Barbie, But PR Mismatch For Mattel

Last Updated Jul 29, 2010 11:15 PM EDT

Mattel and FourSquare are partnering up to host fashioned-themed Barbie scavenger hunts across America. According to Jennifer Van Grove of Mashable, the Barbie FourSquare focus will be on San Francisco, Los Angeles, Chicago and New York, and the winner of the most check-ins will win a Barbie Video Girl doll. Mattel has been going aggressively into the digital age, releasing the surprisingly hip Computer Engineer Barbie and creating an engaging Barbie website, but the deal with FourSquare feels like a mismatch.

The first, and most obvious problem, is age. The average Barbie collector is well into adulthood, but the issue isn't reality, but perception of the popular doll. Barbie is still associated with prepubescent girls, and the FourSquare location-based tracking, along with its extremely streamlined friending process, could open a whole can of controversy for both brands.

Second, the scavenger hunt mechanism isn't exactly the best way to integrate the Barbie brand. The idea of people -- no matter what the age -- running around the city in search of Barbie goods seems a little too radical for location-based app that is just starting to get recognition outside major urban areas. A simpler approach would be a discount, limited collectors item or some token when visiting an official Barbie store or, even broader, a Toys 'R' Us or related outlet.

Third, as Mashable mentions, the Barbie FourSquare events are only in four major metropolitan areas. It is probably smart to launch in the most location-app accessible cities, but it will probably only preach to the choir when it comes to both checking in and to the Barbie brand. Again, a simpler promo plan based on nationally-accessible outlets would have been wiser.

Lego, Calvin Klein and other classic brands have reinvented themselves, too. Mattel should be commended for pushing the technological envelope with Barbie, but this isn't the way.

Photo courtesy of Migraine Chick