Next Media Stars: Shahnaz Mawji

This Carat strategist won the hearts of Canadians by reuniting Mattel's Barbie and Ken in the national media spotlight.

Every year, strategy magazine reaches out to the media community to round up the best and brightest young media minds for its Next Media Stars feature. This week, we feature Shahnaz Mawji, communications strategy supervisor with Toronto-based Carat, and the work she did reuniting Barbie and Ken through an integrated media campaign.

Claim to fame
Unlike the creators of Toy Story, Shahnaz Mawji, supervisor, communications strategy, Carat, didn’t use computer animation to bring Barbie and Ken to life, but she managed to get them A-list celeb treatment nonetheless.

When tasked by Mattel to reintroduce Ken by celebrating his 50th birthday last fall, continuing the momentum created back in 2009 when the brand celebrated Barbie’s 50th, Mawji and her team employed a strategy that involved positioning the two iconic toys as real life people.

They accomplished this by continuing the story of Barbie and Ken’s breakup in 2004, chronicling the ways Ken was trying to win her back, all the while leveraging the dolls’ iconic status to establish them in the minds of Canadians as an ‘it’ couple in pop culture.

‘For so many people Barbie and Ken are real,’ says Mawji. ‘All the elements were playing off of that fact and it was about bringing that to life in our media executions so people could get involved in Barbie’s romance with Ken.’

Mawji orchestrated never-done-before content integration executions with eTalk, creating four segments chronicling the breakup, and Ken’s subsequent attempts to win back the affections of his long-time gal pal. The first was a teaser to spark buzz about Ken’s efforts, which aired back in October during Toronto’s Fashion Week. The next status update aired in January, and on Valentine’s Day eTalk ran a segment that announced to the world the couple’s reconciliation.

Mattel has historically put an emphasis on tying Barbie to fashion and has hooked up with fashion magazines before, but for Ken’s 50th, Mawji decided to put a distinctively new spin on it.

She arranged a piece in Elle that showed the couple sporting Canadian designer duds (featuring looks created especially for the dolls) while visiting notable Canadian destinations – like Fidelity Jeans at the Calgary Stampede and Shan swimwear at Tofino Beach in British Columbia.

‘It was very cool, and what was important to us was to make it relevant for the readers, so it wasn’t just about the dolls at the end of the day, it is about real designers and real trends,’ says Mawji. The effort also included a variety of print ads featuring a celebrity news angle in publications including Metro and Hello magazine. The campaign wrapped up at the end of April, so results were pending at press time.

Another of Mawji’s favourite projects was for Fisher Price’s ‘Best Little Laugh’ promotion. The campaign encouraged mothers to showcase their baby’s laugh by uploading videos of their jovial tots on for the chance to win prizes. Mawji organized a four-page gatefold print ad in Parents Canada that had an embedded sound chip. When readers opened the ad they were treated to the delightful peals of a baby’s laughter. It was the first time that a sound chip had been inserted in a national Canadian magazine, and prompted over 1,000 video uploads.

More on Mawji
Mawji, 27, took advertising at Sheridan College in Oakville, ON., and after graduating in 2005 landed a job at M2 Universal as a media planning assistant. She joined Carat in 2008.

What’s been your favourite cause-related effort?
‘We do a lot with Barbie promoting education. It’s called the ‘I Can Be’ line of Barbie dolls and it’s all about careers. We did an ‘I Can Be’ campaign last year – we rewarded a Registered Education Savings Plan (RESP) – encouraging girls to dream big and to realize their potential. It was really about the message that Barbie is aspirational. We’re actually doing ‘I Can Be’ as an evergreen Barbie division and we’re working on something this year that’s all about female role models, empowerment, encouraging moms, and giving them the tools to help their daughters along their way.’

From strategyonline