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What do Coca-Cola, Apple Inc., and Mattel have in common? All three brands have made their mark on the strength of reputation, history, and consistency. Mattel’s groundbreaking Barbie dolls help shape the formative years of many young girls across the world, whose childhood memories are filled with time spent styling Barbie’s hair, whispering gossip in her ear, and force-feeding her junk food. From a business perspective, Barbie remains an unyielding force in mainstream culture. Approximately three Barbie’s are sold every second. What started as a $3 toy has burgeoned into a $2 Billion per year industry.

As further evidence of Barbie’s massive influence, countless women have gone as far as having cosmetic surgeries in order to look like the doll. Like some of the celebrities who seek to emulate her looks, Barbie has had her fair share of drama. When Mattel and Nabisco joined forces to create the Oreo Fun Barbie, for instance, the doll was immediately pulled because of the derogatory connotation of the term “Oreo” in the African-American community. The publicity fallout from the “Oreo Barbie” concept offers a specimen on public relations, marketing, and general management, all areas of concentration in a typical MBA program. And like her real-life celebrity admirers, Barbie, has already experienced the full relationship life cycle—She hooked up with Ken, left him in 2004, and returned to her beau in 2009. All these business initiatives help fuel the intrigue and fascination with Barbie. An MBA graduate looking to work for a company like Mattel would examine the pros and cons of new Barbie products. The best online MBA programs teach students how to improve existing products without compromising the brand’s reputation.

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