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What can we learn from ‘tween Dora?

Recently in the news there has been some uproar over Mattel’s unveiling of the new ‘tween Dora the Explorer. For those of you not living in the world of children’s characters, Dora the Explorer is a bilingual adventuresome, map-toting, backpack carrying girl, teaching kids Spanish, problem solving, and helping others.

Mattel and Nickelodeon thought it would be a great idea to create a ‘tween version of Dora to let "girls continue to learn and grow with the character." Sounds pretty innocent, right? 

Well, there was quite the backlash among mothers out in cyberspace.

There have been many angry blogs and petitions against this new tweenage Dora. It seems the new Dora will be moving to the big city, going to school, and having adventures with her four new friends. Will she have her backpack? Her best friend Boots the Monkey? Probably not. Here are a couple of the mothers’ comments:

* "What next? Dora the cheerleader? Dora the fashionista with stylist purse and stilettos?"

And, my favorite: 

* "If the original Dora grew up, she wouldn’t be a fashion icon or a shopaholic. She’d develop her map reading … design new ways to bring fresh water to communities in need … become a wildlife preservationist biologist." 

So, what does this have to do with the marketing of your customer program?

When we help companies communicate their customer program, we generally suggest five steps to make it effective. The first step is "Define your Audience."

Clearly, Mattel was not expecting this sort of backlash in the  release of ‘tween Dora. But, I can’t help but wonder if they were carefully thinking about their audience. Will a little girl who was a fan of Dora as a preschooler love the new Dora in the big city without her map, backpack, and Boots the Monkey? Maybe.

I wonder if they thought about why the Dora fans love her so much. From the sounds of the angry moms, it seemed as though she was a refreshing change from Bratz dolls and Barbie, who are fashion focused. Dora seemed to be a pioneer of sorts.

So, did they miss the mark on the audience? Should they have been thinking more about what the parents will think? I think so.

If Mattel would have asked us, we would have told them to do the following:

  • List all of your appropriate stakeholders with whom you need to communicate
  • Prioritize this list- Where will you get the most impact? 

This is a good first step of what you can do when you are thinking about communicating your customer program. Don’t let there be a Dora backlash.

Brianne Drlich
Marketing Communications

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