As a children’s movie, Toy Story attracts a largely younger audience. Both Disney and Barbie are major providers of children’s entertainment products. Each has a “timeless” reputation and is considered a classic part of the American childhood; growing up with Disney movies and Barbie tends to be an integral part of American culture. Dollstuff.net says that Barbie’s character in Toy Story 3 is designed after the 1983 doll, Great Shape Barbie. Barbie dolls have always appealed to young girls and enticed them to see the movie; on the contrary, this flashback to an older model Barbie in the film creates a feeling of nostalgia and reminiscence of an older generation’s youth and attracts an elder audience to come see the movie. After Toy Story 3 premiered, there was a significant raise in the number of sales for the 1983 Barbies. In their book Everything’s an Argument, Andrea Lunsford and John Ruszkiewicz believe that this correlation can be used to support a casual argument (301). It can be inferred then that the Barbie’s advertisement in the movie led to the increase in sales. In this way, both Toy Story 3 and Barbie manufacturers gained credibility and profit from their advertising partnership.
Barbie dolls are connotatively thought to be nothing more than a pretty toy for young girls; however, Barbie’s character in the movie persuades the audience otherwise. Her role throughout the movie is a silly love-struck girl who finds her soul mate, Ken. Yet as the movie progresses, Barbie develops into a strong, loyal character. In the scene where the toys are being thrown into Sunny Side “jail”, Barbie sees this injustice and decides that loyalty is more important than the delight of being with her lover. Barbie could have easily gone back to the comfort of Ken’s Dream House, yet she chose to stay in “jail” with her friends. Barbie’s shift from a young, foolish girl to a strong, loyal friend eradicates our preconceived thoughts about her and persuades us that Barbie is a toy with value. This argument directed towards the parents benefits the Barbie company but also provides credibility for the movie as one that promotes good character.
The Barbie company not only received a lot of visibility from this advertising, but they were also able to establish a clear reputation and earn a lot of credibility as well. Also beneficial was the association Toy Story made with the renowned Barbie company, which amplified the status of the movie. This establishes and contributes to the movie’s fan-base. Although Barbie appeared briefly in Toy Story 2, it was a very minor role and did not have the effect of Barbie’s role in the most recent film. Overall, Barbie’s advertisement successfully promoted the movie as well as endorsed the Barbie company.