Barbie the global citizen! Yes, it’s the same Barbie doll that many of us played with as a child. That very doll is known as a global citizen due to its global commodity chain and which also makes it the most profitable toy in history. The doll launched in 1959 sells at a rate of 50 per 2 seconds today. It brings Mattel Corporation its manufacturers a revenue of over billion dollars every year. The doll mostly sells in United States, Europe and Japan but can also be found in 150 other countries.
Barbie is sold all over the world but that is not the only thing that makes the doll a global citizen. Although Mattel Corporation is based in the USA, the dolls were never made in the country. In 1959 the first doll was made in Japan. Japan then was still recovering from the aftermath of the Second World War hence wages there were low, as the wage in Japan rose the production was moved to other Asian countries with low wages.
Barbie is designed in the United States, this is where the marketing and advertising are done and also profits are made but the major production takes place in many countries all over the world, only the cardboard packaging is made in the US along with some paints and oils for decoration. The initial production of Barbie starts in Saudi Arabia, where oil is extracted and then refined into ethylene which is used to create the plastic body. Taiwan’s state owned oil importer, the Chinese Petroleum Corporation buys the ethylene and sells it to Taiwan’s largest producer of polyvinyl chloride (PVC). The ethylene is made into PVC pellets that shape the dolls body. The pellets are then shipped to four Asian factories that make Barbie – Two factories in southern China and one in Malaysia and one in Indonesia. Once the body is moulded, the hair which comes from Japan and the cotton dress which comes from China are attached and shipped to Hong Kong. Close to 23,000 trucks of the doll make a daily trip between Hong Kong and southern China’s toy factories. This is what makes Barbie a global citizen.
But not everyone involved in the production reaps equal benefit of the revenue made by the sale of these dolls. China gets about 4%, mainly in wage paid to 11,000 peasant women who assemble the doll, 6.5% covers all of the other countries that manufacture and distribute the toy. 10% goes back to Mattel in profit and the remaining 80% is the mark up which companies that sell the product ass to the cost. The white, sometimes blonde and sometimes brunette doll has received its fair share of criticism for not representing different races and body types due to which many changes were made, yet Barbie to this day is one of the most popular and highly demanded dolls.