In a one week period, the pop-news world was a-flutter with debate regarding plastic “Entrepreneur Barbie” on the one hand and genuine Jenny Trout (real-life entrepreneur) on the other. What a juxtaposition!
While some hailed the new Barbie as a “wonderful business role model for young girls,” the rest of us, frankly, gagged. As if it’s not enough to receive life long messages that beauty only comes in the package of surgically modified bodies (at least for women – though this has become increasingly true for men), now women are supposed to be unrealistically, unattainably successful at business as well.
Before you start thinking that I don’t believe in women’s ability to rock as entrepreneurs, please understand: there’s nothing further from the truth. I’m a woman and an entrepreneur and I rock…as do all of my fabulous clients. I do, however, believe that women – just like men – need to pursue business models that are revenue generating in order to be successful, rather than dreamy ideas of a lovely future for girls.
It’s as if Mattel thinks we’ll buy it: Get your plastic surgery to generate a perfect body and face, buy some high end clothing, put a tablet and smart phone in your delicate, tiny, manicured hands, and you’re ready to head a company. Ladies, is that the road you took to success? Yeah, I thought so. Not so much.
Before I dive off the deep end here, my real point is that Mattel is blowing it by ignoring the values, ideals, experiences, and needs of their customers. Barbie’s been on the wane for a while and, by all current signs, this new ploy to regain market share has been a disaster. Girls – even young girls – aren’t buying this messaging anymore. Neither are their moms and dads who, let’s face it, have the purchasing power. We all know what it takes to be successful in business and being a plastic person is no longer the winning ticket – if it ever was.
On the other side of the coin is the brave, brilliant, and beautiful Jenny Trout. A novelist and blogger, Jenny decided to wear a bikini to the beach, curves and all. In her blog she states, “I wore a bikini in public. While being fat.” and goes on to describe the reactions of others when she announced her intention before hand, as well as during and after the big event. While people were confused initially, given their culturally-induced predispositions (they assumed that she was going on a weight loss program in order to be free to wear a bikini in public), they were crazed, lunatic, fans in the end.
Beth Greenfield wrote a Shine article entitled, “Fat Woman Wears Bikini. World Doesn’t End.” Fabulous title that says it all. This is completely relatable, right? Unlike Mattel’s attempt to win fans through smoke and mirrors that fool few people these days, both Jenny and Beth hit the proverbial nail on the head. They appealed to real people’s real concerns. The outcome: Both went instantly viral with an outpouring of loyalty, love, respect, and connection.
My message: It wins every time. Give people something they can relate to…act in a way that’s consistent with their values…and you win brand loyalty every time. Be real. Be authentic. Be honest. Be successful.