While the “Barbie” film pokes some enjoyable at Mattel’s fictional CEO performed by zany Will Ferrell, the actual life
story of 1 Mattel honcho was something however enjoyable and video games.
The first — and the final — feminine to run the present at Mattel after co-founder Ruth Handler was ousted for cooking the toy firm’s books was Brooklyn-born, Queens College co-ed Jill Barad, who rapidly rose from hawking cosmetics on the street as a gross sales trainee for Coty cosmetics to changing into chairman of the board whereas decked out in a Barbie pink swimsuit, sneakers and lipstick.
At age 45, in 1996, she turned one in all solely two ladies operating a Fortune 500 firm.
But she was introduced down by “a manifestation of greed” and what one Barbie designer known as “the Princess Diana fiasco.”
Barbie’s gross sales soared beneath Barad, who was a fan: She had 52 Barbies plus Andy Warhol’s rendition of the doll displayed in government suite. She was thought-about a shrewd and savvy advertising and marketing genius and featured on the covers of magazines like Business Week.
But throughout her three-year reign, the glamorous Barad had a secret undertaking: To overshadow Barbie’s glow and progress with unique Mattel doll collectibles within the likeness of two worldwide icons.
As a prime Mattel government concerned in Barad’s hush-hush tasks informed me for my ebook, “Toy Monster: The Big, Bad World of Mattel,” “Jill was virtually obsessive about having these two icons, Princess Di and Elizabeth Taylor, develop into Mattel dolls. Jill felt it could give her and the corporate monumental status as a result of neither had ever given their authorization for an unique doll of their likeness.”
Beginning within the mid-Nineteen Nineties, Barad had quietly assigned her prime advertising and marketing individuals to foyer Diana,
Princess of Wales, to get her authorization to supply a doll in her picture. It proved unimaginable.
“Diana categorically refused to be related to Barbie,” a well-placed supply revealed. “She refused to be commercially exploited as a doll.”
But after Diana tragically died in a Paris automotive accident on August 31, 1997, Mattel, beneath Barad, thought-about producing an unauthorized Diana doll.
The Diana, Princess of Wales Memorial Fund charity, nonetheless, sued the Franklin Mint for producing two unlicensed Diana dolls — claiming that Diana’s identify was being exploited “like vultures feeding on the lifeless.”
But Barad wasn’t giving up.
The Mattel boss determined to hunt authorization for the Di doll from the fund, together with lobbying the late Princess’s older sister, Lady Sarah McCorquodale.
As a employees designer, Mattel employed British illustrator Anne Zielinski-Old, who had accomplished work for such British corporations as Harrods and different companies that carried the distinguished stamp of “Royal Appointment” from Buckingham Palace.
“They had really employed me to do the Di doll. My being there was the manifestation of Jill Barad’s greed,” Zielinski-Old informed me. “She needed to do the Princess Diana doll and so they thought, ‘Here’s any person who really works for these individuals who have the royal warrants — let’s get her in.”
In February 1998, the “Ultimate Princess Diana Gown Doll,” was introduced to Barad.
As Zielinski-Old recalled the second, “Jill simply noticed greenback indicators.”
A month later, Barad was shocked when the Wall Street Journal reported that Mattel’s competitor, Hasbro, was in talks with the Fund’s trustees about making a collectible Di doll — an act that repulsed the UK public and British politicians like Prime Minister Tony Blair.
Barad’s dream had develop into a nightmare and Mattel would get no approval from the Fund.
According to Zielinski-Old, “A scarcity of Mattel etiquette killed the connection with the Fund.”
In a determined final effort, Barad despatched the completed doll to Diana’s sister.
“Sarah opened the field and sees her sister,” Zielinski-Old stated. “It’s probably the most lovely Princess Diana doll, however she was horrified … shocked that one thing may very well be so near her sister in miniature.”
McCorquodale stated no to Mattel.
With one half of Barad’s dream over, she then ordered the design group to finish her subsequent massive tried coup: a doll model of “Miss Elizabeth Taylor” that the actress would approve – and enhance Mattel’s projected earnings — within the wake of what Zielinski-Old known as “the Princess Diana fiasco.”
Barad ordered a “one in all a form” doll that may fulfill the notoriously image-protective Taylor, with the hope of a inexperienced mild for a mass-produced model.
It was to be the very best profile doll Mattel had ever made.”
To Barad’s aid, Taylor permitted the doll and Mattel started to publicize it. The one-off was auctioned off in 1998, in entrance of an viewers of celebrities and VIPs. When presenting the doll to Taylor, Barad stated, “I couldn’t be happier if I had been God!”
The winner was Barad’s good friend, actress and big-time Barbie collector Demi Moore, who bid $25,000 by telephone from Paris.
Mattel quickly started advertising and marketing an Elizabeth Taylor “Cleopatra” doll — “the primary approved portrait of the movie
star,” Mattel boasted. By the winter of 1999, nonetheless, Barad’s successes had gone the opposite method and Mattel was dealing with its worst monetary state of affairs in years.
On Febb. 3, 2000, Barad was compelled to step down by Mattel’s board of administrators.
“Jill cried on the aircraft on her method again residence,” a colleague stated. “Here she was coming again by herself and her complete profession was over.”