Using the Gothic as a Marketing Tool: Fashioning Dark Dolls for Little Girls

Using the Gothic as a Marketing Tool: Fashioning Dark Dolls for Little Girls

DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-5778-4.ch012
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In the highly competitive contemporary world of children's toys, one type of doll has risen to the top almost a decade ago and has redefined through its popularity, the very image of modern dolls. Mattel's Monster High collection represents a success from various points of view, but what constitutes perhaps the most interesting aspect to be analyzed is the role which a concept as elusive and heterogeneous as the Gothic has played in the marketing scheme of these toys. Traditionally associated with fear and horror, the Gothic has undergone a paradigm shift and splintered in various distinct, if not contradictory forms, allowing the concept of the monster to be reinterpreted by the creators of Monster High. Thus, this chapter will first focus on the theoretical premises of the contemporary Gothic as part of a marketing strategy and then it will apply it on the marketing campaign of Monster High dolls.
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Background: The Gothic In The Modern World

When the word ‘Gothic’ first appeared in the public imagination, it was chiefly a negative term, borrowing characteristics from the population which originally gave its name. Regardless of historical findings that the Visigoths were skilled craftsmen and horse riders, the adjective which derived from their name was endowed with the negative or pejorative meaning of “barbaric”, “savage” and “uncivilized”, meant to be used in direct contrast with the mighty and superior civilization which was represented by the Roman Empire (Spooner, 2006).

Key Terms in this Chapter

Mainstream: The vast majority of a certain society which does not have any particular or niche tastes; here, the opposite of Goth.

Post-Millennial Gothic: A critical concept which wishes to comprise contemporary forms of the Gothic that do not elicit fear or horror, but rather a celebratory, whimsical and gleeful spirit.

Gothic: A literary and social phenomenon which originally comprised such themes as terror, transgression or the uncanny.

Goth: A social and cultural subculture which is characterized by the overtly Gothic choice of their life and fashion style, as well as their taste in music or art; here, the opposite of mainstream.

Mattel: A major American toy manufacturer founded by Ruth and Elliot Handler in 1945.

Target Customer: The intended buyer of a certain product or the intended beneficiary of a specific service.

Monster High: A line of flexible-jointed dolls created by designer duo Garrett and Darren Sander in 2010.

Monster: From a traditionally Gothic point of view, any of a number of unnatural creatures which represent the Other; here, a fashionable concept of “peculiar” identity.

Advertising: The action by which a product is made known to consumers.

Marketing: The cumulus of concepts and strategies employed in order to convince customers to invest in a certain product.

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