Barbie ditches her Malibu dream house

Mattel’s ad campaign has her in a new house this fall

New York TimesFebruary 8, 2013 

Barbie(R), the world's most fashionable doll, officially put her coastal Dreamhouse(R) on the market - signaling the launch of a year-long global brand campaign. With the help of her realtor-to-the-stars Josh Altman, the impressively scaled Dreamhouse(R) is currently listed for $25 million* and can be exclusively viewed at


One of the best-known residents of Malibu, Calif., alongside billionaires like David Geffen and Larry Ellison, is embarking on a national promotional effort to help sell her home there for the eye-popping price of $25 million.

Potential buyers may want to try bargaining down the price when they realize the house has only one bedroom and one bathroom — and three walls.

Those clues ought to point to the owner: Barbie, the doll who has, in the imagination of millions of girls, lived on the beach — in a home formally known as the Barbie Malibu Dreamhouse — since the introduction of Malibu Barbie in 1971. Mattel, the toymaker that has marketed Barbie since 1959, announced Thursday that Barbie is posting a “for sale” sign on her house in preparation for a move.

The announcement will kick off a campaign that is to culminate with a disclosure of Barbie’s new home, which will be brought to life in a playset that will come out in the fall, in time for the 2013 Christmas shopping season.

The campaign is meant to mix actual and imaginary elements. For example, a section of Trulia, the real estate website, will carry the for-sale listing for what is being called “the dreamiest of dreamhouses.” Josh Altman, a cast member of “Million Dollar Listing: Los Angeles,” a reality series on the Bravo cable channel, is being “hired” by Barbie to list the house.

And four designers are forming a dream team, in Mattel’s parlance, to advise Barbie in her hunt for a new home. They are Jonathan Adler, who brought the Malibu playset to life in 2009 as part of a commemoration of Barbie’s 50th anniversary; Lulu de Kwiatkowski; Celerie Kemble; and Trina Turk.

Although the campaign will include some traditional advertising like an ad in Us Weekly magazine, the bulk of it will involve digital media, on platforms like and the Barbie website,; social media like Facebook and Twitter; and public relations.

When Mattel reported its fourth-quarter results on Friday, executives said that Barbie sales fell about 4 percent, representing the third quarterly decline during 2012. That trend has set off efforts by Mattel to generate interest in Barbie and address challenges like the sluggish economy and the growing interest among children in electronic toys.

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