Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Yeah but will my niece recognize her?

For those of you who are parents of young kids, I expect I'm probably a little late to this particular dance but I heard today that Dora the Explorer is getting a makeover. Nickelodeon, together with Hasbro, are overhauling the look of the backpack-wearing, bilingual explorer and making her...well...girly, based on the two silhouettes have been released:

This is apparently intended to extend Dora's appeal beyond kids like my 3-year old niece and into the 9-11 year old crowd. Gone, it seems, are the backpack, the practical sneakers, the shorts that are perfect for climbing on rocks, the functional haircut, and the chubby body of a little kid in favor of what look like ballet slippers with bows, a skirt, long hair, Barbie legs, and middle school.

This strikes me as wrong on so many levels. Are they just doing this to sell more t-shirts and dolls and backpacks, like an NFL team changing its logo? Do they really think that a 10-year old is going to latch on to this new Dora? And seriously, what's wrong with presenting an image of a girl who wears shorts and plays baseball and soccer? And what about Dora's real fan my niece going to recognize her?

Do these people have no understanding of branding? Didn't they learn anything from New Coke or the Tropicana orange juice debacle that recently ended with a humbled return to the old box? Any bets on the over/under until Nickelodeon and Mattel turn on the way-back machine and bring back original Dora?

If they want to reach an older crowd, just give Dora an older sister for crying out loud. Ladies and gentlemen...Nora the Superficial Bratz Knockoff.

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