The Bowie and Barbie connection
Jackie Hogarty, Head of Brand and Marketing
Two recent iconic developments again serve as examples of rebranding in perpetuity - the redesign and relaunch of Barbie and the untimely passing of David Bowie.
Launched in 1959, Barbie has undergone many iterations, culminating in a 2016 rebrand where the children’s doll now comes in four body types and seven skin tones, with 22 eye colors and 24 hairstyles. She has had countless occupations, ranging from engineer to flight attendant to veterinary surgeon. Products branded with Barbie are in most countries in the world. In 1974, a section of Times Square in New York City was renamed Barbie Boulevard for a week and in 1985 Andy Warhol created a painting of her. She’s a cultural icon.
A master at re-invention, David Bowie entertained in music, film and media for more than fifty years. His powerful brand was refreshed constantly; most people have a favourite whether it’s Ziggy Stardust, Aladdin Sane, Tin Machine or one of his many others. Hugely successful with 10 number one albums and around 140 million records sold worldwide, his constant ability to re-invent himself was legend and there are many musicians today who cite him as their inspiration. The world-renowned V&A Museum in London created an iconic exhibition of his work, costumes and memorabilia that has been touring the globe since 2013, ending in Japan in 2017. Even after his death, he has 12 albums in the Top 40 chart.
At Amec Foster Wheeler, we have also undergone rebrands and reinventions, culminating in our current guise. In business since 1848, our ability to embrace change and to respond to the market and to our customers has meant we remain focussed, current and an industry leader.
For me, a brand is a name, term, design, symbol, or other feature that distinguishes you or your product. It’s also a feeling and a culture. Rebranding is a refocus of your brand. It redefines who you are, what you stand for and why you matter – and Barbie, Bowie and Amec Foster Wheeler are great examples of how to successfully move a brand into the future by continuing to grow and evolve.
Meet the blogger
Jackie is a brand and marketing professional with experience in corporate communications, event management and literature production. She joined Foster Wheeler in 1989 and is based in the Reading, UK, office.
Jackie has seen the business develop and grow over the years and in her current role as Head of Brand & Marketing at Amec Foster Wheeler, manages and oversees all branding, marketing, online and design activities to support and grow the new brand.