Barbie turns 50 next year, and her luster has faded over the years. Now, Mattel Inc. executives have begun a sweeping makeover of the doll's marketing in advance of her birthday.

The company wants to return the doll to her roots, doing everything from revamping the corporate structure that oversees Barbie to changing the way the doll is photographed for ads. The goal: to make Barbie fashionable again with older girls, who are dropping her for other, edgier playthings like video games.

Goosing Barbie's appeal is crucial for Mattel. The world's largest toy maker is suffering from weakening consumer demand as the industry prepares for what's expected to be more than a 5 percet drop in toy sales for the Christmas season, the worst in a decade.

Barbie sales have been either flat or down for five of the past seven years, and analysts expect sales to remain flat this year. "You could say that we lost our way," says Richard Dickson, the brand's new general manager.


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