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Start The Startup™

250 words or less. For entrepreneurs and other smart people who don't have time to read.

Perception is Reality

American Girls

Perception = Reality.  Someone said that to me (from a marketing perspective) a couple decades ago and it stuck.  Now I see through marketing schemes with a clear lens.   I am no sucker.  January 2, though,  the all-new American Girl Doll launched their Girl of the Year with uber amazing fanfare.  “Isabelle!  The Dancer!  She’s great at hip hop, ballet, yoga, and jazz, you name it!”  Cool.  Coming off the “high” of the holiday season, Mattel launches this Girl of the Year the week you can hear crickets in any other toy store or online retail outlet.  I excitedly showed my young daughter the catalog, which conveniently plopped into our mailbox January 2.  No other retail catalogues that day, either.   ME:  “They announced the Girl of the Year!  And she’s a dancer!” The little girl inside me was jumping up and down about this new doll, Isabelle.  My daughter:  “Mommy, she looks the same as the dolls from the last two years.  There was Saige, with dark blond hair, and then Mckenna before her.  But they are all the same doll.  And, I already have  Julie Albright, with long blonde straight hair, and she looks exactly like Isabelle.”   Wow.   Me, the 40-something, “jaded” marketing geek-mom, had actually fallen  for the hype.  American Girl (Mattel) had effectively marketed and convinced me that Isabelle was new. Different.  Special.  My perception was my reality.  And my daughter’s reality, was, well, more in line with what was real.  What do kids do with a doll that has the exact stamped face as another, with slightly different color variations?   God bless them for adding ethnic variations, but where is the creativity there?  Granted, my daughter hadn’t seen the hype and PR on the new doll.  She didn’t read the social media chatter of other moms.   To a child (my child at least), If the dolls look so much the same, they must be the same.  Unless it’s a big deal to your target market, it won’t be a big deal to you secondary market.  Mattel and American Girl are smart to market to moms.   Little girls may just be a little too smart.






Cathy Bennett is an entrepreneur, product launch veteran, and avid coffee drinker from the San Francisco Bay Area. She graduated from UCLA with a degree in Communications and earned her MBA in Marketing from the University of Notre Dame. After 15 years in corporate marketing, Cathy launched her own startup in 2007. Despite being a small-new-online-bootstrapped company, Cathy took an aggressive, hands-on approach telling the story of her company. It was compelling enough to get the attention of the Today Show, Martha Stewart, Parents’ Magazine,, Daily Candy, and PC Magazine, amongst others. Her use of social media was featured by Facebook Corporate as a “Best Practice” for its engaging use of Facebook pages. She sold her company in 2011, joing on to leading new initiatives in product launch, PR and social media for the parent company’s New York-based operation. Before her startup, Cathy was involved with corporate product launches for large companies like Ford (U.S. Launch Manager for Jaguar and Land Rover brands), Nissan (Product Manager for Infiniti’s QX4 and I30), and spearheaded Lincoln’s audio licensing partnership with THX/Lucasfilm. Cathy started Start The Startup™ to share her best practices in product launch and PR for small startups looking to attract some high quality attention.