The Curious Case of Barbie Doll


If you ask many Arab parents if they want to buy a doll for their children what they will choose Barbie or Fulla (they are the same with different attitude and culture) they will say “definitely Fulla”:

With thick black hair and large dark eyes, Fulla is the physical antithesis of Mattel’s blonde, empty-eyed icon of Western consumerism.

And when she steps outdoors, she hides beneath a white hijab scarf and modest ankle-length coat, or even an all-enveloping black abaya cloak, Many Arab parents are happy to see a local girl take on and defeat the might of Western myth-making.

Black-haired Barbie doll that wore a black abaaya and a hijab replacing a western appropriate children’s doll.

Fulla is said to be a “role model” not only because she dresses “appropriately,” but she also comes along with a prayer mat and women-appropriate careers such as Medicine or Education.

Fulla represents a live example for localization, the creators of Fulla NewBoy say the doll represents Arab and Islamic values such as modesty, respect and piety that’s why Arabic children are now choosing Fulla over Barbie.

Fulla was introduced to the MENA market in 2003, within two years of its introduction 1.5 million dolls had been sold.


Compared with Barbie’s improbably pneumatic curves and lanky legs, Fulla’s assets are modest, and never officially on display. Although she is marketed with a range of funky clothes, furniture, jewellery and grooming equipment, to avoid offending Muslim modesty, she has no swimwear.

She wore mini-skirts in a country where women’s clothing was restricted in the most conservative states, and she had a boyfriend in a society that highly appreciated marriage.


NewBoy (The creator of Fulla) see that Arab parents won’t accept Barbie doll because it’s not reflecting what they live, and that’s an external factor.

External factor: is the outside factor that can affect the business like culture, economic environment and legal environment.

In this case we can see the relationship between marketing strategy and planning, marketing communications and marketing research, how?

The marketing strategy and planning take a decision that they will enter the Arab countries and they give a marketing research a Commissioning to make a market research on Arab countries.

The research feedback was included the culture as an external factor so, the marketing planning and strategy named the doll “Fulla” and make a lot of changes to pursuit Arab parents.

Marketing planning and strategy gives the new name and new style to the marketing communications to start making a campaign on the new way.



Don’t ignore the power of external factors in marketing.

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