Ken and Barbie use QR Code

Did you know that Ken and Barbie, America’s first couple, were on the outs? I didn’t, until I saw this phone booth billboard here in New York, which happens to feature a QR Code. Mattel, the company that manufactures Ken and Barbie dolls, is behind this new campaign.

When the QR Code is scanned, the reader of the ad is brought to a mobile website that offers the ability to vote whether or not Barbie should take Ken back. There is also a section on the mobile site which gives a fun description of how Ken and Barbie first met, as well as the trials and tribulations of their dating over time. Additionally, there are Facebook, Twitter and FourSquare links.

There is one other aspect of the mobile site to mention, and this is where the campaign goes from somewhat clever to somewhat convoluted and puzzling. On the mobile site, there is a section called “Genuine Ken – The Search for the Great American Boyfriend.” Touching on this section links the reader to a Hulu-based reality television show, the objective of which is to find America’s perfect boyfriend. The 30-minute show airs every Tuesday, but I am uncertain as to how long this program has been running and for how much longer it will last. It is also difficult to ascertain who is behind the program…Mattel or any other company. Based on the comments made on the program’s Hulu site, it does not appear as though there is a great fan base or following so far.

While the print advertisement was designed and executed in a half-way decent fashion, Mattel, or whomever, loses me the further I dig into the campaign and end up at the Hulu program/site. What I don’t understand about this campaign is the demographics. If Ken and Barbie are targeted towards young children (i.e., pre-teens), who is the target audience for Genuine Ken? The same young children who play with dolls? Doesn’t make a great deal of sense or am I missing something.

What leads me to fail this campaign is that there is no real value or benefit being offered or delivered to the consumer, however young or old they may be. A reader isn’t even told when or where they can tune in to find out if Barbie eventually takes Ken back or not, or when the cut-off is for voting. The messages seem to be very mixed with this campaign, and I can only imagine, or maybe I can’t, what the strategic goals and objectives of this 2D campaign were. Can anyone at Mattel help me out? 

2D Barcode Litmus Test: FAIL

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