Barbies’ Got a Brand New….Image!?


When I was a kid, I can clearly remember my sister played with Barbies with her friends.  They spent hours dressing they’re Barbies in preparation for an upcoming vacation, a wedding or a New York fashion show.  Times were pretty simple back in the late 70’s and early 80’s; we didn’t have the internet, social media or mobile connectivity that today’s kids take for granted.  Mattel, the maker of the Barbie doll, had a huge hit on its hands and was rapidly expanding the brand from dolls and accessories into a multimedia entertainment powerhouse and branded product juggernaut.

Last year for my daughter’s sixth birthday she received a Barbie doll from her friend. My sweet little girl was ecstatic, but my wife and I were less than thrilled.  You see our generation has come to associate Barbie with a blond materialistic bimbo. My wife and I are adamant that our daughter is influenced by strong, intelligent and compassionate female role models (actual and fictional).  It turns out we aren’t the only ones since 2009 Barbie’s market share has been declining with the steepest coming after 2014 which has Mattel shifting its strategic marketing of the brand to align better with modern consumer perceptions.


So, how do you update an iconic brand to keep up with today’s societal norms while still retaining the value of the established brand equity?

1)      Active listening and engagement with your market.

Issue:  Consumers felt that the blonde, buxom skinny Barbie didn’t represent the current demographic.

Tactic  Mattel asked consumers what they liked and what didn’t like about the Barbie doll using various consumer research venues

Action:  In January Mattel unveiled a new line of Barbies with various skin tones, body shapes, and hair types

2)      Establish an identity that is fluent with your audience.

Issue: Research showed that her reputation for materialism had alienated the brand

Tactic: Mattel conducted product testing of different product identities that matched societal trends

Action: Mattel is using advertising to shift perceptions towards a more imaginative, creative play environment that is less focused on stuff

3)      Build the brand into a lifestyle platform that communicates hope and inspires positive action.

Issue: Mattel previously focused their marketing at 5-7-year-old girls realized the need to target parents (specifically nostalgic moms)

Tactic: Televised ads during TV shows like Dancing with the Stars showing a young girl pretending to lecture her dolls about the scientific properties of the human brain

Action: Target nostalgic moms and their need for esteem and self-actualization through the daughters exploration of advanced life possibilities

4)      Innovate, Innovate, and Innovate with flawless execution and impeccable timing.

Issue: Mattel will attempt to shatter the image that Barbie is a dumb blond

Tactic: Mattel will unveil a new line of Barbie Dolls that symbolize leadership and compassionate power

Action: This week Mattel unveiled President, and Vice President dolls coupled with a worksheet that gets parents and daughters talking about leadership and politics

5)      Stand for a cause.

Issue: Mattel needed to link the Barbie brand with a social cause

Tactic: Mattel partnered with the non-profit – She Should Run which works to get more women interested in politics

Action: Partnering with the nonprofit She Should Run will appeal to Moms who want to empower their daughter for any challenge

6)      Leave a legacy.

Issue: When you think of Barbies current legacy it is not very flattering

Tactic: Mattel is attempting to change the legacy from an antiquated gender stereotype into a world leading women

Action: Mattel has established an advisory council to advise the Barbie brand managers on advancing women empowerment issues and topics

While the full results are still 6-8 months away, the Barbie brand has increased sales momentum in starting in the second half of 2015 going into the first quarter of 2016.  The possible election of a female President would likely increase the demand for a Presidential Barbie drawing much needed positive brand awareness and momentum to Mattel’s efforts to shift the perception of this storied brand.

The question will be: Has Mattel done enough to change the opinion of my wife and me when it comes time for my Daughter’s 7th birthday in September?  I honestly don’t mind buying my daughter a Barbie that represents a positive female role model whether it is a World Leader, Scientist, Soccer star or Mother makes no difference. What is most important is that it comes with the message that my daughter should feel healthy about who she is and capable of achieving any objective that she could imagine.

Who is Mike Pence?

Governor Mike Pence
Donald Trump’s expected VP running mate, Mike Pence

Donald Trump has likely chosen Republican Mike Pence as his Vice President running mate. Here’s what you need to know about Mike Pence.

Quick Facts:

  • Michael Richard “Mike” Pence, born June 7, 1959
  • Family: wife Karen Pence, one son, two daughters
  • Religion: Evangelicalism
  • Attorney who graduated from Indiana University Robert H. McKinney School of Law in 1986
  • Served in the United States House of Representatives from 2001- 2013
  • Governor of Indiana since 2013
  • Ran against John Boehner in 2006 for the minority leader of the U.S. House of Representatives, lost by a large margin
  • In 2008, he was listed as one of the top ten legislators by Esquire Magazine
  • Has been listed as a potential running mate for both the 2008 and 2012 presidential elections
  • Part of the Tea Party Movement
  • S. House committee assignments have included: Foreign Affairs, Subcommittee on Middle East and South Africa, Judiciary, Subcommittee on the Constitution, Subcommittee on Intellectual Property, Competition, and the Internet. (This experience is likely to help Trump’s short comings in foreign policy)
  • Supporter of earmark reform
    • Secured earmarks for the ‘Transit Acquisition and Intermodal Facility Project,’ construction of a park in Portland, inclusion in a bill for labor-health and human services
  • Co-sponsor of the 2011 spending limit amendment to the U.S. Constition
  • In support of increased border security, laws against hiring illegal immigrants and guest worker programs
  • Supported the Iraq Resolution
  • Opposes closing Guantanamo Bay detention camp
  • Has supported Israel on a number of occasions and considers them to be “America’s most cherished ally”
  • Is in opposition of LGBT rights, including same-sex marriage, civil unions, Matthew Shepard Hate Crimes Act, and aid money intended to go towards preventing the spread of the HIV virus
  • Is strongly against reproductive rights for women
  • May keep Trump in check! Pence has been vocal at saying Trump’s Muslim ban is a terrible idea

What do you think?  Is Mike Pence the right VP pick for Donald Trump?

How does Mike Pence fit into the Trump Brand?

Good Marketing Blogging: Kissmetrics

Kissmetrics is an online marketing firm that helps firms optimize, track, and analyze their digital marketing campaigns. They also run a helpful, insightful, and popular blog covering digital marketing topics. In learning about successful digital marketing the Kissmetrics blog has been a treasure-trove of information.

I’m going to analyze one blog post that stuck out to me: How Brands Can Take Advantage of Snapchat (infographic).

The post is written by Zach Bulygo (@zachcb1), the blog manager for Kissmetrics. This blog post is a very good example of a basic informational post. Writing about the basics of a topic can be difficult, especially for someone who knows a lot about how it works. Zach combines helpful text with an excellent infographic.

The Text:

Zach starts off by defining the audience that snapchat advertising is useful for: young adults 18-24. He also lays out some basic statistics about why Snapchat is a viable digital marketing medium, and should be part of any social media portfolio. Zach also sums up an important point to end the text:



The Infographic: 

The infographic steals the show. As a visual learner, it was pleasing, helpful, and entertaining. The infographic relays demographic information already discussed in the text, and adds more data. It gives examples of successful implementations of Snapchat from major companies such as Acura and Taco Bell. Thirdly, it gives the readers some examples of Snapchat uses: Contests, New Product Sneak Peaks, and targeted videos, among more. Finally, it sums it up with the best practices a company should undertake when starting a brand communication on Snapchat.


My one critique of the blog post is that the infographic felt buried. It was at the bottom of the post and I had to scroll down to find it. The infographic is visually appealing and interesting. As a frequent blog reader, it is possible that I could have missed it, because the extra step of scrolling through the post is one I often don’t take. Luckily this time I did however, because I was impressed with the visual representation of the blog.

More Marketing Insights from TEAM MONEY:

Steph Curry and Kevin Durant Can Play of the Same Team and Still Sell Sneakers

5 Secrets to Flexibility Training, and Building a Following

For me, flexibility has never come easily. Two years ago I could barely touch my toes or press up into a backbend (wheel pose) without help.

Today, I can sit comfortably in a split, while enjoying my morning coffee.

Screen Shot 2016-07-13 at 11.44.35 AM

Jokes aside, when I decided to commit to flexibility training, I learned some big lessons. These lessons were not only about flexibility but about building a following on social media.

1) Take progress photos. And share them.

When I started working on flexibility, I took a contortion class where my instructor made us take progress photos. Sharing these photos (while uncomfortable at times) on Instagram kept me accountable.

I stumbled into a subculture dedicated to flexibility through sharing progress photos. “Today you’ll find a flourishing crowdculture around almost any topic” because subcultures are amplified in the age of social media (Holt, 2016). This community became my primary source of motivation. I received comments of encouragement from people I would never meet in person – my digital family.

Two years later, and I’m still sharing progress photos.

Screen Shot 2016-07-13 at 4.25.24 PM

2) It takes 30-days to form a habit.

I HATED stretching. All of my fitness instructors told me if I really wanted flexibility training to become a habit, I would have to do it for thirty days. To jumpstart my flexibility training I took on a 30-Day Split Challenge. My challenge was simple: do 20-40 minutes of active stretches for my splits every day for thirty days. Sounds easy, right? It wasn’t at first.

I shared weekly progress with hashtags like #30daysplitchallenge to tap into a community of people who were working towards similar goals. The positive affirmation I received from these posts really kept me motivated to keep going. I ended up extending the challenge to do a second month. Stretching had become a habit.

And on Day 65, I got my first split.

Screen Shot 2016-07-13 at 11.51.15 AM

Before I knew it, I had also gained almost 4 followers for every 1 person I followed. Why does this ratio matter? Because it showed me that being authentic in my content was the reason people followed me, not to get another follower in return.

People love an underdog.

Screen Shot 2016-07-13 at 11.20.36 AM

3) Flexibility is mental.

So, what is really happening when you’re stretching? The truth is this: you’re training your mind, “Exercises such as reaching for your toes train the nervous system to tolerate a greater degree of muscle extension without firing off pain signals.” (Ghose, 2014) Sounds silly – but you can’t deny science.

Each time I stretched, I knew I was training my mind to go a little bit further. If someone had told me, “one day you’ll put your head between your feet,” – I would’ve laughed.

Looks like the joke is on me.

Screen Shot 2016-07-13 at 10.32.24 AM

4) Gains come at the most unexpected times, don’t give up.

You never know when gains will occur. There will be weeks (and even months) where you don’t feel like you’re making any progress. That’s normal!

For me, when I am injured (ironically) is when I have the biggest gains in flexibility. Weird, right? Earlier in 2016, I hurt my left wrist and had to rest it for 3 months. During that time, I had my first center split roll-through and stood up from a back bend with one hand.

The video doesn’t lie – note the wrist brace.

5) Stay hydrated.

Muscle flexibility is highly dependent on your hydration. “If you’re looking for a quick fix for just about anything that ails you, water is it. And that goes for flexibility as well.”  (Kita, 2009).

Drink water, osmosis is not the way. Trust me.


Parting thoughts…

Don’t be afraid to show weakness, failure, progress and success on social media. Authenticity is the key to finding and building your community.

Happy bending!

Melissa Barker


  1. Holt, Douglas. “Branding in the Age of Social Media.” Harvard Business Review Mar. 2016: n. pag. Print.
  2. Ghose, Tia (2014, November 13). Does Stretching Increase Flexibility?. Retrieved July 8, 2016, from:
  3. Kita, Joe. (2009, April 14). Drink Water, Boost Flexibility. Retrieved July 8, 2016, from


Kim K On The Forbes Cover

Did you see the cover of Forbes Magazine this month? Kim Kardashian is on the cover! What was your reaction? Were you shocked? DId you roll your eyes? Where you slightly irritated that a seemingly “talentless” reality television personality made $160 million off of a mobile game app since it’s launch in June 2014? The face of “Mobile Moguls” is changing and those who know how to capitalize are winning BIG! When we think of old school media moguls we are used to names like: Hearst, Spelling, Turner and Oprah. In the digital realm that we will in now, we think of iconic names like: Mark Zuckerburg, Steve Jobs, Larry Page and Sergey Brin. But, there is a new breed of mobile moguls that are taking advantage of both. Love her or hate her, Kim Kardashian is a indeed a modern Mobile Mogul and she is a force to be reckoned with.


How dysfunction in Congress is devastating rural communities


by Team Ruckus

Willamette University Atkinson School MBA for Professionals


Remember the days when smoke filled back-room deals were carved out for members of Congress so they could take promises of money back to their communities and campaign upon those promises.  I miss those days, but likely not the for the reasons you think. I want my pork barrel spending back. Ok I said it out loud, even though every one of my conservative friends are cringing, I will say it again. BRING BACK PORK BARREL SPENDING!


Now that I said it, hear me out. These sweetheart deals were traded between members of Congress for votes on locally important projects for another member of Congress. It is reciprocity at its finest and the basis of any positive relationship. One member votes in favor of another member’s pet project with the expectation that a return vote for your project would happen through the appropriations process. It is a give and take relationship through genuine politics and the ability of each member to be able to influence another. This congressional appropriations encouraged constituencies to continually vote to keep stability in their government and money flowing back to their districts. This reciprocity gave members of Congress a reason to talk, negotiate, and consult with each other across the aisle, across chambers, and find solutions that were right for their own communities, big and small. In 2010, the House Republicans effectively banned earmarks in the appropriations process. Guess what, we have not had a fully appropriated budget pass since then. Budget extensions, government shutdowns, debt ceiling threats, omnibus spending bills and continuing resolutions which are little more than extending the previous year’s budget are the new norm.  At this point, we have dysfunction and no real reason for any member of Congress to work together at all. Imagine that scenario in your workplace trying to get anything done.


What does this have to do with rural communities? So let’s ask instead, what has happened with all that extra money Congress is saving by effectively banning congressional earmarks in the appropriations process? Nothing. The money is still there to be used. It is not distributed to multiple federal agencies to administer, while at the same time Congress has not increased the funding for staffing.  Now, small rural communities have to compete with all the cities across the U.S., through lengthy grant applications, through multiple different federal agencies, after completing multiple feasibility studies, by hired consultants, to show the need and justification for such grants and then they are asked to pay for a significant portion of the projects themselves.


So you ask, how do these small communities in rural America effectively compete in this environment? Rural communities cannot do it without significant human and financial capital. This is why the current granting system makes little sense. Rural communities with few resources are shunted through grant processes to satisfy their basic needs. At least with earmarks, small communities did not have to jump through so many hoops, satisfy seven different federal agency grant requirements and they could go to a handful of sources to get help with expensive infrastructure projects such as water and sewer infrastructure. Without these costly infrastructure investments in rural communities, they continually become less attractive places to live. This perpetuates an increased urban/rural divide where urbanites get grants for art installations while rural communities cannot afford to install, repair or replace decaying infrastructure such as water main lines and provide basic sanitation for their residents at a reasonable cost. As the population expands and housing becomes more expensive, resource intensive elements get pushed to the lower cost rural communities where resources are already limited. A couple of months ago, I was at a meeting and the rural community was concerned that individuals with mental health issues are moving to their community and that anytime a mental health emergency occurred, their rural volunteer fire department had to respond without resources to get that individual help.

Pork Congressman

For rural communities sake, bring back the pork barrel spending. If it is a ‘Bridge to Nowhere’ is what a struggling rural community needs to survive and thrive, lets help them do it without having them spend years satisfying federal grantor requirements. I would rather have wasteful spending in rural communities than the loss of the American rural lifestyle.
Returning to the regular order for congressional appropriations is the most valuable constitutional function of the U.S. House of Representatives and the U.S. Senate. Rural communities have a vested interest in this. To my rural friends, ask your Congressional members to get back to the regular order appropriations process and lift the earmark ban so the funding of important locally controlled projects are not hindered by bureaucratic red tape. Rural communities stand to benefit much more than they contribute into the federal tax system through the earmarking process.

Chasing My Dreams, Realizing My Power


“Why are your knees covered in mud and your heels bloody?”

“Why are you in grad school?”

“Why would you try to do that?”


Hi. My name is Lauren and awkward social interactions are my specialty. Like, even more so than Dory from Finding Nemo. You know, that fish who forgets she is talking to you mid sentence? Loses her family because she forgets she even has one? Yeah, even more awkward than THAT fish.

(case and point: comparing myself to an animated fish – and meaning it. Publically.)

The above questions are just some of the brutally honest questions I have been asked in the last three months. No, I’m not recently pregnant, married, or attempting to get to Rio in 2016 for the speed walking competition, either. All I am doing is working towards my MBA at Willamette University, while working full time, and training for my first half marathon.

Not even a FULL Marathon; just a half! 13.1 miles of constant motion; during which all I will be uttering in-between gasps for air is I-havent-been-fit-since-I-was-16-years-old-what-the-hell-was-I-thinking.

This is my story. Well, one of my stories. This is my story right now – as it is happening in real time – all of the mucky, defeated, determined, yes I just shit my pants a little on that last run parts of it.

If you’re on board for the honest and gritty truth of trying to do something you once was impossible, stick around. This is the story of my journey to finishing this half marathon and documenting the experiment for my Marketing class. This is the first in  a series of posts chronicling, through various digital marketing methods, my trek to the half marathon.

It’s bound to get interesting. Some people argue that is already has!

My current goal is to finish the Disneyland Half Marathon on September 4th, 2016 in under three hours.  While dressed das a fish that has a terrible short -term memory, but damn is she committed! Just. Keep. Swimming. Lauren.

Current Stats:

Motivation for my last training run:  the sheer curiosity of if my body can stay in motion for two hours straight.

Length of last training run: 2 hours 18 minutes

Song that got me through my last training run: Donald Trump, by Mac Miller

Longest continuous distance ran (to date): 4 miles

Days to Disneyland Half Marathon: 50

PokemonGo – A Possible Marketing Tool?


Before you think this is crazy, just hear me out. My wife found this article on NPR and it compelled me download the app to my IPAD. I admit, I wanted to hate this app. Even though I was a huge Pokemon fan as a kid and thought at the very least, I could re-live some nostalgic moments, a huge part of me felt this wouldn’t work.

When the app finished downloading, I skipped pass the tutorials and jumped right in. As soon as it started, right away it showed me that there was a Charmander Pokemon somewhere in my room along with other Pokemon in my immediate area. I held up my IPAD, moved a few feet to my dresser and there Charmander was!  As my PokeBall emerged on the on the screen, I threw it out using my finger and BAM, caught my first one. I’m kind of ashamed to admit it, but I wanted to go to catch the next one. I did experience the excitement of wanting to catch more – the #gottacatchemall mentality. Oddly enough, I think there is something to this, and not just the fact that it has all the makings for an addictive game.

As surprisingly addictive the game turned out tobe, you will also be surprised that this has huge potential to be a great marketing tool in the future. It is collecting a tremendous amount of customer data that can be used by other companies to target players for ads. Also, since the app pretty much tells, or entices, the players where to go, it’s not unreasonable to predict that advertisers will utilize the #gottacatchemall mentality to lure you into their business. Therefore, what you have in this app is a great future tool to get people through the doors of your business.

In terms of the ability of Pokemon Go to market itself as a product, the app is addressing three of the 5C’s in Marketing Strategy: Company, Customer, Context. This app still fits in with the brand image of its original company, Nintendo, as playful and non-offensive. The customer, or player, gets to experience a fun game and keeps them coming back for more, for free, and in terms of context, PokemonGo offers a scavenger hunt type of game right at a point when these types of scavenger hunt apps are starting to trend. PokemonGo hit the market at just the right time, perhaps Nintendo planned this all along!

The Fight For Summer Superhero Movie Domination






Will DC stay alive with Suicide?

Marvel vs DC, in the fight for movie supremacy, Marvel is winning. Not only did they exceed expectation with Captain America: Civil War, they brought with them an unusual, straight out of left field home run with Deadpool. The wise cracking, antihero psychopath that breaks through the third wall and cannot die. Its also an R, that’s right, R rated superhero movie. Marvel has in one way created a new kind of market movie alternative for those getting sick of the same old superhero movies and those just getting older with the Marvel Brand. With all this, can DC make a come back? Batman vs Superman started off great but can they keep the momentum. There next hope is their upcoming movie Suicide Squad.

Marvel vs DC, in the fight for movie supremacy, Marvel is winning. Not only did they exceed expectation with Captain America: Civil War, they brought with them an unusual, straight out of left field home run with Deadpool. The wise cracking, antihero psychopath that breaks through the third wall and cannot die. Its also an R, that’s right, R rated superhero movie. Marvel has in one way created a new kind of market movie alternative for those getting sick of the same old superhero movies and those just getting older with the Marvel Brand. With all this, can DC make a come back? Batman vs Superman started off great but can they keep the momentum. There next hope is their upcoming movie Suicide Squad.

This movie may give DC a fighting chance for two reasons: one, great marketing with the trailers and two, bringing back the Joker. DC needs to play to their strengths and a huge one to their brand’s credit is the clown price of crime. The Joke is by far DC’s greatest Asset, if they play him right of course. With his shady backstory, haunting laugh, and sometime terrifying persona, it’s hard not to be intrigued. The Joker keeps loyal fans happy and brings new ones along for the ride.

I love the way DC is marketing this because I feel it keeps to the brand of DC. Branding has a lot to do with emotion and how a customer feels. DC’s brand brings up feelings of empowerment and dark. DC’s brand is epic powerful characters like superman that stands for truth justice and the American way, while the Joker is the dark sinister character that haunts your nightmares. These are feelings Marvel does not stir up.