October 1, 2023

Digital Marketing Education

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Gap hires Mattel exec Richard Dickson responsible for Barbie revival as CEO

Dickson is credited with helping propel Barbie to fame, evidenced by the brand’s recent blockbuster film success and its 100-plus brand partnerships. Prior to his leadership of the brand—he rejoined the company in 2014—Barbie suffered as a toy as mothers avoided it for its unrealistic portrayal of female stereotypes. Yet under Dickson, the 64-year-old brand evolved with the introduction of new body types and ethnicities and storylines that reinforced the power of play and female independence. “Barbie,” the movie, which raked in a year-high $155 million in ticket sales from North American theaters at its recent opening weekend, demonstrates the cross-generational appeal the Barbie brand currently commands.

Also read: ‘Barbie’ represents a new era in entertainment marketing

Prior to rejoining Mattel nearly a decade ago, Dickson worked as president and CEO of branded businesses for the Jones Group, which included marketing and merchandising for the clothing company. He had also worked at Mattel in the early 2000s.

Analysts are optimistic.

“His reinvention of the Barbie franchise, which is currently riding on a high, is also proof that he understands how to turn around established brands that have run out of energy and steam,” wrote Neil Saunders, managing director of GlobalData Retail, in a recent research note about Dickson’s appointment. “This is exactly the challenge he will need to address at Gap.”


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