March 01, 2003

WHEN CROSS-BRANDING BECOMES SURREAL: Okay, I've got nothing against Barbie. And I like SpongeBob. But, somehow, the "SpongeBob Squarepants Barbie" just seems, well, weird.

You can imagine the marketing meeting: "It's synergy! Barbie's a classic, and SpongeBob's a hot new star!"

I don't have anything against this at all. It doesn't bother me. It just seems, well, weird enough to make me whip out the camera while on my regular weekend trip to the toy store.

And yet, it's sort of fitting. "Rugrats Barbie" doesn't work. "Jimmy Neutron Barbie" is almost inconceivable. "Rocket Power Barbie" is imaginable, though the main female character on Rocket Power, Reggie, doesn't seem much like the Barbie type.

But SpongeBob's wacky genre-busting appeal somehow does kind of work.

I'm not sure if this is a work of genius, or of transcendent weirdness. I'm not even sure that, in this case, there's a difference. But it seems to be some sort of major cultural event, and I thought it shouldn't go unnoted.

UPDATE: This, on the other hand, is just plain weird.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Reader Mary O'Boyle emails:

I showed the picture of Spongebob Barbie to my 9 year old twin girls thinking they would laugh hysterically. NO! They started screaming: " I want that! I want a Spongebob Barbie!" Then as they walked away, one mused: " I wonder if there is a Spongebob Ken too?"

Obviously, it's another stroke of marketing genius.

YET ANOTHER UPDATE: Looks like a winner! Er, but Amy Kropp doesn't like it.