The Toy Industry Exec Who's Seeing Pink
With a career spanning over a quarter-century within Mattel’s toy empire, Lisa McKnight, Mattel’s EVP and Global Head of Barbie and Dolls, set her sights on an endeavor as extravagant as Barbie’s own wardrobe. In the summer of 2023, Barbie (the movie) infiltrated our lives with an unyielding grip. Star Margot Robbie graced the cover of Vogue, a real-life Malibu Dreamhouse went up on Airbnb, and Mattel developed more than 100 other brand partnerships. Behind this whirlwind of Barbie-esque enchantment lies Lisa McKnight, whose journey began long before her illustrious tenure at Mattel. Her path wound through the world of advertising, landing her at the helm of the marketing department for the Gap Global brand, overseeing the realms of Gap Kids and Baby Gap. In addition to her pivotal role at Mattel, Lisa also graces the board of the Toy Industry Association and stands as a beacon of inspiration as part of MAKERS Women.
You know a marketing campaign is genius when moviegoers are clueless about a film’s plot, but head to the theater in droves regardless — all while decked out in pink. Lisa McKnight and the Mattel team’s brilliant marketing campaign around Greta Gerwig’s Barbie has included more than 100 brand partnerships — Xbox, Balmain, and OPI, to name a few — as well as experiential stunts, like a themed boat cruise, or the doll’s iconic Dreamhouse being listed on Airbnb. The experiential elements of the campaign grabbed international headlines, thrusting the movie into the impressions stratosphere and signaling a new era for Barbie the doll, too. As part of Barbie’s path back to cultural relevance, Lisa gave the doll a global social mission with the Barbie Dream Gap Project. Launched in 2018, the multi-year initiative seeks to reverse the gender “dream gap” and help girls reach their full potential, despite the gender gaps that often occur in the world around them.