Reinventing Bratz for Millenials
In the latter part of 2014 I was hired to work on a number of exciting projects for some of the nation’s biggest toy companies. In September, I joined a small team that helped Hasbro secure the Disney Princess franchise, a major coup for the company since the princesses had a long-standing relationship with Mattel, and easily brought in millions of dollars in revenue annually. A large part of my workload included market research and character development, which naturally goes hand in hand with my branding experience. I was charged with creating a new voice and story for these Princesses that would hold true to their essence, help expand their reach and re-engage their core demographic. A lot of that entailed falling back on my expertise as a branding professional and researching the new ways fans were playing with the dolls. Tumblr was a great resource! I was really proud of how we helped shape a new generation of dolls and can’t wait to share the end result with you…
But this post isn’t about that new generation of dolls. This is about my work with BRATZ which absolutely fell out of my natural experience and into my hobby/passion — although it’s important to note that their marketing strategy has been brilliant and quite in line with my aforementioned work.
The role I played in this project was very small and very simple. I had to sketch out the dolls in group poses for the animation lead to fill in detail, patterns and color. The only thing I had to be mindful of was their accessories and the doll’s distinguishable features: big lips, big eyes, big feet.
Below are my sketches:
Here are the final character looks:
The work of www.shellyadventures.com
To be fair, I got the job because someone with a heap more experience than I backed out, mainly because they didn’t approve of the doll’s provocative aesthetic and felt it was entirely inappropriate for children (meanwhile this was on repeat while I was sketching).
Instead of shying away from their controversial look, BRATZ embraced their “mature appeal” and included that into their marketing strategy as a key differentiating factor from other dolls and a source of relevancy.
They recreated red carpet looks from the 2015 Emmys. Revered fashion illustrator Hayden Williams dedicated an Instagram post to the squad. And they partnered with forward thinking / millennial focused fashion house VFILES to create a new doll called Bad Gal Vee Vee:
…clearly inspired by Rihanna. Did I mention I was listening to this when I was working on the project in 2014?!
My little sister doesn’t know who Hayden Williams is or anything about VFILES. She’s 12 years old and all she cares about is that the doll is in vogue. By partnering and creating conversations with these brands, BRATZ has solidified its cool girl mantra and gives new fervor to its fashionable image. It’s no longer just a toy, it becomes a cultural staple, and that is what has contributed to its success.