Doll Has Sold 10 Million Units With Minimal Advertising

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NEW YORK ( -- Mattel has retained Publicis Groupe's Leo Burnett USA, Chicago, to work on its American Girl doll line, a spokeswoman for the ad agency said.
Mattel's powerhouse American Girl brand built its sales via the Web and catalogs.

Burnett has a "relationship with American Girl," the spokeswoman said. She wouldn't describe the scope of the relationship or disclose spending on the ad account.

Negligible ad support
Mattel is hiring Burnett as it looks for new ways to market the powerhouse brand, which has sold more than 100 million books and 10 million dolls with negligible advertising support.

American Girl built its strong following through the Web and its catalog, which spawned American Girl Place shops in New York and Chicago.

Late last year Time Warner's WB Network aired Samantha: An American Girl Holiday, a made-for-TV movie based on one of the most popular characters and set in 1904. Samantha lives with her grandmother and befriends Nellie, a neighbor's servant girl. After Nellie's father dies and the kids are sent to an orphanage, Samantha figures out an escape plan.

Procter & Gamble
Procter & Gamble Co. sponsored the movie and bought all the advertising time.

For the first nine months 2004, Mattel spent only $33,000 in measured media on the brand, according to figures from TNS Media Intelligence/CMR. By comparison, the toy marketer spent $5 million behind Barbie.

A spokeswoman for Mattel didn't return a call.

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