Project Information



Mattel aimed to grow its Barbie brand in China. We helped them figure out how.


Ruth Handler, Barbie’s inventor, created the doll in 1958 to help young girls believe they could become anything – be it an artist or astronaut. This is why China – a market where female empowerment percolated in urban centers – fell in love with the iconic toy despite no marketing push. Barbie represented the most desirable values of Western culture: self-determination and self-creation. Building from the tagline “Inspire Aspiration,” we developed a strategy that would create a stronger connection between the brand and this cultural trend, and ultimately bolster sales.

Our solution was to create The House of Barbie, a colorful, six-story splendor dedicated to Barbie and her girl empowerment mission. Ascending a large spiral staircase, visitors saw all of Barbie’s varied careers back through time. At each floor, girls could interact with the brand, customize dolls, design outfits and dream. Every girl received a Barbie Passport and earned stamps for engaging in different activities throughout the store. Earning stamps unlocked passes to “Barbie Nights” at the city’s museums, ballet, and cultural institutions.


In the first ten days, 50,000 people visited the flagship store, while two million people visited annually. It helped establish Barbie as fashion lifestyle brand rooted in female self-empowerment.


  • Shade Architects
  • Ogilvy & Mather
  • Brian Collins