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From the 8th Annual Shorty Impact Awards

Barbie x Laverne Cox Tribute Collection Launch

Gold Honor in Influencer & Celebrity

Bronze Honor in LGBTQ+


Since 1959, Barbie’s purpose has been to inspire the limitless potential in every girl. That message has never been more relevant than it is today. In 2021, we launched The Barbie Tribute Collection to celebrate the incredible contributions, impact, and legacy of true trailblazers – including Lucille Ball and Vera Wang.

In an effort to advance the brand’s commitment to diversity and inclusion, Barbie chose to honor a visionary in the LGBTQ+ community, Laverne Cox. As a four-time Emmy nominated actress, Emmy winning producer, and the first transgender woman of color to have a leading role on a scripted TV show, Laverne Cox embodies the values that the brand seeks to honor with its Tribute Collection. 

To celebrate her accomplishments, Barbie worked directly with her to create a doll that properly reflected her appearance and style, just in time for Laverne's 50th birthday. 

Strategy and Execution

For the launch of the Laverne Cox Barbie doll, we closely collaborated with Laverne on the creative process for the doll. She was directly involved with the design process of the doll, which helped create an authentic representation of her style and personality. 

To sculpt the doll and develop a one-of-a-kind gown to reflect Laverne's personal flair and aesthetic, our design team started by researching red carpet looks where she truly shines to recreate her iconic makeup and hairstyle. Initial sketches of the gown were then submitted to Laverne who expressed her favorite color to be deep, oxblood red. Laverne shared images of stand-out pieces in her wardrobe and inspiration was taken from her beloved corsets, blazers, and sparkling shoes. Beyond sketches, skin tone samples and body sculpts were shipped to Laverne to capture her comments and stamp of approval on every inch of her doll. 

“I begged my mother for a Barbie doll and she said no because I was assigned male at birth,” the Inventing Anna star told People in an interview about the release. Cox referred to the creation of the doll as “a process of reclaiming my inner child, healing her, giving her what she didn't have the first go-round. Barbie is a very tangible part of that.”

The timing of the launch, which coincided with her 50th birthday, but also during a challenging period for trans rights, introduced a strategic element to the campaign, making it more relevant and impactful. 

After 18 months of planning the doll would launch as tensions were rising against the trans community, including landmark legislation such as the "Don't Say Gay" bill in Florida. Mattel stuck to their commitment and was prepared to react to any negative feedback.

To further support the Laverne Cox doll launch, Barbie donated to TransFamilySOS, an organization that is close to Laverne’s heart, with a mission to create a more gender affirming and accepting community. 

12 hours before launch, a national crisis occurred in Uvalde, Texas, one that impacted parents and children across the country. This took over news screens, online sites, and the minds of Americans. After careful deliberation with our crisis counsel, we moved forward with the launch under the caveat that widespread outreach would wait until later that week. 

The team had worked closely with TODAY to secure an exclusive doll unveil and tribute with Laverne Cox on the 3rd hour of The TODAY Show. While the morning was dedicated to Uvalde, the producers wanted Laverne to come share her story in-studio, knowing that viewers would want to hear her inspiring story at a moment when people were in search of positivity and hope on TV.

The day after launching the Laverne Cox Barbie, Laverne hosted a Barbie-themed 50th birthday bash attended by her A-list friends, where she wore the real-life version of her Barbie’s outfit – spurring a second round of coverage on top outlets Page Six and PEOPLE.


Barbie broke down barriers and records in partnership with Laverne Cox. The collaboration earned: 


Video for Barbie x Laverne Cox Tribute Collection Launch

Entrant Company / Organization Name

Weber Shandwick, Mattel, Barbie

Entry Credits