Mattel Hits Stereotypical Nail on the Head with Dads Who Play Barbie

Gone are the days when dads threw a ball to their sons and mums played dolls with their daughters. Mattel’s new “Dads Who Play Barbie” campaign is opening doors and changing stereotypes.

Americans love their football and, during the AFC Championship Game (the game that decides which team would move on to the Super Bowl) Mattel first aired its very special commercial.

Knowing that millions (that is, upwards of 40 million) people would tune in to the game, Mattel had a major audience for this fantastically fab commercial.

dads-why-play-barbieOpening with a dad saying, “I’m a typical man’s man,” the commercial then goes on to show the “man’s man” doing something that many people wouldn’t consider very manly – playing with Barbie dolls. Not only is he playing Barbies with his daughter, but he goes on to explain that while Sundays used to be for football they’re now also for his new pastime. And, of course, that pastime is hanging with his daughter and acting out sweet little scenes with Barbie.

This dad isn’t the only one. The commercial also features other dads, all playing Barbies with their kids. One dad all-too vehemently claims he only plays the role of Ken. Seconds later he’s on screen acting out Barbie’s role.

The “Dads Who Play Barbie” spot doesn’t just point out that dolls aren’t just for girls, it also sends the message that, “You can be anything.” As one dad say of his daughter, “I think she can be anything she wants to be or all of them.”


Watching the commercial, you’ll notice that each young girl is acting out a future-work-related scene with her dad. There’s a doctor, a firefighter, an astronaut, a yoga instructor, a palaeontologist and a teacher. What’s the point of all this professional play? Along with seeing dads take on not-so-traditional roles, the commercial features the line, “Time spent in her imaginary world is an investment in her real world.” We say, “Go dads!”

Hopefully Mattel’s new campaign will positively influence some of those “manly” dads out there and get them to drop the ball and pick up the doll. After all, it truly is an investment in their daughter’s future.


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Erica Loop is a mum, parenting writer and educator with an MS in child development. Along with writing for websites such as PBS Parents,, Scary Mommy,, Modern Mom, and others, she also is the creator of a kids' activities and art blog.

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