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How a Barbie Makeover Led to a Pandemic Sales Boom

  • New skin tones, body types revive a classic toy for the 2020s
  • Doll joins streaming, video games as Covid lockdown favorites
Mattel Inc.’s Barbie generated its best sales growth in two decades in 2020.

Mattel Inc.’s Barbie generated its best sales growth in two decades in 2020.

Photographer: Daniel Acker/Bloomberg
Updated on

One of the biggest consumer hits of the pandemic, alongside Netflix and the Nintendo Switch, is a 61-year-old doll once mocked as outdated and sexist.

Long written off by many parents and kids -- and criticized for promoting an unrealistic body image -- Mattel Inc.’s Barbie generated its best sales growth in two decades in 2020. Years of planning and a bit of luck have turned the baby boomer of toys into a go-to item for millions of kids.