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Barbie comes to Ohio University

When Kayla Carpenter, BSJ ’13, walked into a classroom on the third floor of the Schoonover Center last week, she was thrilled to see many of the students wearing bright pink. That’s because as the senior manager of global brand marketing for Barbie at Mattel, Inc., for Carpenter, pink is more than just a color.

“One of my favorite things about this past year of Barbie is that I’ve always loved pink. I’ve always been very girly, and I feel like 2023 really showed so many women reclaiming pink as such a powerful color and how it works with being smart and being feminine,” said Carpenter. “I just love that.”

Kayla Carpenter Barbie class 2
Kayla Carpenter talks to Tony Telloni’s advertising and public relations capstone class.

Carpenter was invited to Athens to hear the final presentations in Tony Telloni’s advertising and public relations capstone class. The students were divided into groups and asked to respond to a client brief and request for proposals from Barbie. The theme for the presentations was “Developing Purpose for Barbie.”

Carpenter listened as each of the three groups presented their campaign ideas. 

“How would you make this campaign global?” Carpenter asked the first group, who presented a campaign called “The World is Your Dream House,” focusing on using the platform of Barbie to address mental health issues young children are facing. Carpenter provided positive feedback and constructive criticism to help the students in all three groups learn how to improve their campaigns.

"One of the objectives of the class is to get the students to use some of their creative and strategic muscles, and to borrow a cliche, to have the students 'get comfortable with being uncomfortable,'” said Tony Telloni, adjunct professor. “I'm really proud of all three groups, how they came together and specifically their collaborative efforts. And huge shout out to Kayla for her guidance and inspiration. Working on Barbie was an amazing experience for me and the class.”

Kayla Carpenter visits class
A student presents a request for proposal from Barbie to Kayla Carpenter as part of a capstone class.

Carpenter’s visit was sponsored by the E.W. Scripps School of Journalism.

“The E. W. Scripps School of Journalism has a long history of providing experiential learning opportunities in the classroom. Many of our courses contain ‘real-world’ components in which our classrooms are converted into newsrooms or ad agencies where students work with professional clients like Barbie,” said E.W. Scripps School of Journalism Director Dr. Eddith A. Dashiell. “By blending practical experience into our curriculum, our students learn and practice the skills they need to be successful journalists or advertising/public relations practitioners with campus media, their internships and the industry.”

Carpenter is currently working on a project at Barbie called “The Dream Gap Project.” The global mission is dedicated to closing the gap between girls and their full potential by challenging gender stereotypes and helping undo the biases that hold girls back. Since 2019, Barbie has donated $250,000 a year to non-profit partners that work directly with girls to enable them to discover what they can achieve. Barbie has also partnered with researchers to develop school curriculum about careers and leadership.

“We consider ourselves the original girl empowerment brand,” said Carpenter. “It’s one way that Barbie impacts girls around the world to help them build their own limitless potential.”

Barbie class
Students in Tony Telloni’s advertising and public relations capstone class were tasked to prepare a presentation with the theme of “Developing Purpose for Barbie.”

Carpenter’s time in Athens also included speaking to other classes and meeting with the faculty and staff at the Scripps College of Communication, including Dean Scott Titsworth.

“My day in Athens was incredible,” said Carpenter. “It was such a beautiful day. My absolute favorite memory of Ohio University is being outside on campus because it’s so beautiful, and I just feel really honored to be here. The students gave me a really warm reception. So many of them wanted to take a photo of me after I spoke in one of the classes. It made me feel so special, and the pleasure was all mine to be here.”

April 30, 2024
Cheri Russo