Daryl Hannah's hoax plastic-free Barbie ad highlights famous doll’s environmental impact | Totally Vegan Buzz
Daryl Hannah's hoax plastic-free barbie ad highlights famous doll’s environmental impact
Image: The Yes Men

“Barbie has changed in many ways since I was a girl, but under the surface, she’s still toxic.”

To make the most of Barbie’s phenomenal success and the ensuing mania “Splash” star Daryl Hannah helped carry out an elaborate environmental hoax against toy company Mattel.

The 62-year-old was featured in an ad announcing Mattel’s new environmentally conscious “EcoWarrior Barbies” which included dolls inspired by fellow activists Greta Thunberg, Julia Butterfly Hill, Nemonte Nenquimo, Phoebe Plummer, and herself.

The ad went on to claim that the famed toymaker also pledged to go plastic-free by 2030.

The viral campaign was carried out by activist group Barbie Liberation Organization and famous pranksters Mike Bonanno (real name Igor Vamos) and Andy Bichlbaum (or Jacques Servin) — aka The Yes Men, who specialize in exposing corporate “wrongs.” 

Plastic-free campaign

The pranksters created, fake news releases, a phony website, and realistic Mattel signage while Hannah featured as the ambassador for Mattel’s “sustainability mission.”

In the commercial titled ‘Plastic Free With Daryl Hannah’, the actress claims:  “Barbie and I are about the same age, except she will never die, really.

“During my lifetime, Barbie and over 1 billion of her friends have been abandoned in our landfills and waterways where they will live on forever.”

She went on to announce her partnership with the toy company and even outlined ways Mattel would produce future dolls with “totally compostable materials” such as resin, mushrooms, and algae. She also emphasized that Mattel would support a federal ban on plastics in kids’ toys and on single-use plastics.

“I am honored to join forces with Mattel in their visionary efforts to create a better world through play,” she said in the fake released statement.

She added: “Barbie has changed in many ways since I was a girl, but under the surface, she’s still toxic.”

While the video was fake, one element that was included was real and that was of Hannah finding a barnacle-encrusted Barbie while snorkeling off the coast of Fiji almost a decade ago.

“I find in the staghorn coral, while I’m diving, these little Barbie legs sticking out,” she said. “She was just going to remain there forever.”

Mattel’s response

Mattel denied any affiliation to the announcement and confirmed it was fabricated.

However, the fake campaign with its legitimate appearance duped several news outlets that picked up the campaign, including People and The Washington Times.

“This is probably the most successful PR coup of all time when it comes to people thinking that because there are surface changes in the doll that it’s changing some fundamental dynamic in our culture, which it’s not,” Vamos told Yahoo! News.

“To say the doll is feminist now when the toy is contaminating the environment that the future of all humanity and all life depends on is kind of a colossal and bizarre joke,” he added.

The campaign was planned to highlight the environmental and human rights issues attached to the manufacturing of Barbie dolls and push Mattel to go plastic-free.

According to the Plastic Pollution Coalition,  all Barbie-related products contain “at least five types of fossil fuel-based plastics: polyvinyl chloride (PVC), ethylene vinyl acetate (EVA), acrylonitrile butadiene styrene (ABS), and hard vinyl – plus additive chemicals.

It added: “When no longer desired or usable, Barbies, and other plastic toys, and all of their plastic packaging, are almost always not recyclable – because the plastic was not designed to be recycled.” Around 60 million Barbies are sold annually – that’s over 100 every minute.

‘Don’t need something that poisons children

Hannah also noted that Mattel has the means and impact to make a difference. “They’re one of the largest toy companies in the world and toys don’t need to be made of something that poisons children, literally, and that gets into our bodies, into our systems, into our landfills, into our waterways, into every part of our life support systems,” she said.

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