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How Barbie's Parent Company Activated Their Purpose

"Barbie" has been taking the US by storm since its release. In this issue, we will look at how Mattel, a major U.S. toy company that owns many toy brands including Barbie and Fisher-Price, has created a movement around Purpose.


 

Inspiring the limitless potential of girls.


This is the brand purpose of Barbie, which serves as the centerpiece of its comeback strategy that was kicked off around the mid-2010s.


The company behind iconic toy brands like Barbie and Hot Wheels is the US toy company, Mattel. In this post, we take a look at how they ignited a movement within their company around purpose.


With the market environment becoming digital-first and millennial parents demanding purpose from the brand they use, Mattel set out to update their corporate purpose.


Working with a consulting firm, they redefined their purpose to:

We empower the next generation to explore the wonder of childhood and reach their full potential.


To roll out their purpose, they developed a six month global activation plan. The activation plan started with aligning the leadership team with the new purpose. With leadership on board, a global Town Hall event was held to announce and introduce the purpose. Following the all company event, over 100 purpose activation workshops were held across the world. The activation plan also included integrating purpose with HR initiatives, redesign business process around purpose, and external communication programs.


In summary, the activation plan is made up of 5 perspectives:

  • leadership experience

  • employee experience

  • HR framework

  • business process redesign

  • external communications


Key Learnings

The plan also takes into consideration of key events and communication efforts of the company. This is a key point because the purpose activation plan is not an isolated effort. The plan should link with what is happening inside the company. How can the purpose be tied to new product launches or planned communication campaigns? This makes the purpose more relevant and, thus, more believable for the employees.


Another key success factor we observe from this case study is that whereas most activation plan focus on leadership and employee experience through workshops and communication initiatives, By linking HR and business processes to purpose, it accelerates the activation. The HR purpose connection creates an extrinsic framework that guides employees toward the purpose. The business process redesigned means actually applying purpose in the work and projects the employees do on a daily basis.





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