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21 January 2021
In 1993, poet and civil rights activist Dr. Maya Angelou was the first Black poet and the first female poet to speak at a US Presidential inauguration. Days before poet Amanda Gorman stole the show at yesterday's inauguration of President Joe Biden, Mattel announced that Dr. Maya Angelou would be added to Barbie's Inspiring Women collection.
Barbie launched its first Inspiring Women dolls in 2018 after surveying 8,000 mothers who expressed a desire for better role models for their daughters. The line-up has included historical figures from Frida Kahlo to Ella Fitzgerald and Rosa Parks to Sally Ride. (A different line of 'Shero Dolls' focuses on present-day heroes.) The Maya Angelou doll, which retails for USD 29.99 and includes a miniature replica of 'I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings', quickly sold out.
In 2020, Barbie committed to increasing Black representation, pledging that going forward, 50% of their role model dolls would be Black, indigenous or women of color. That long-term commitment is meaningful, since consumers are understandably skeptical of short-lived marketing initiatives that briefly respond to serious calls for social change. How can your brand demonstrate that it's truly dedicated to promoting diversity and inclusion, and in it for the long haul?