Screenshot from Barbie's ad, showing a child reading to a group of dolls

5 May 2021

Barbie says playing with dolls could change the world (and has the science to prove it)

A new ad by Barbie asks "What if every individual were more empathetic? Every friend, more generous? Every colleague, more patient? Every community, more inclusive? And every leader, more understanding?" It suggests the world would be a better place if more children played with dolls, developing social skills and empathy that would carry through to their adult selves.

The campaign, which was created by BBH, builds on research commissioned by Barbie in which neuroimaging was used to explore the effects of doll play. Results were published in October 2020 and concluded that playing with dolls activates regions of the brain that allow children to develop social processing skills and empathic reasoning, even if a child is playing alone.

Barbie's efforts tie in with a trend we've dubbed Mindcraft (check out our free briefing), which outlines how companies are finding ways to support the emotional and mental health of both their own teams and the consumers they serve. Why now? In a US study last year, nearly 50% of people indicated they were placing greater emphasis on their mental wellbeing. Which tools can your brand offer employees and customers to help them build empathy and strengthen their emotional resilience?

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