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PARIS -- Mattel France has signed a ground-breaking partnership with the Paris National Opera that will allow the toy maker to feature the famed concert hall and its trained ballerinas in marketing campaigns for the legendary Barbie doll.

The new agreement between Mattel and the National Opera is geared specifically toward promotion of Barbie in the Nutcracker, the first computer-animated full-length feature film starring Barbie, slated for nationwide direct-to-video release in France next autumn.

The partnership holds promise for both sides: The Opera will receive undisclosed financial support for its varied youth-oriented activities nationwide, while Mattel will be allowed to conduct ballet-related marketing tie-ins to the upcoming film, such as contests offering tours of the Opera and dance demonstrations or private, on-site screenings of the film.

Advertising for the film -- as well as a series of new dolls and accessories linked to its release -- will be handled by WPP Group's Ogilvy & Mather Worldwide, Paris, Mattel's longtime French agency for the Barbie account. -- Lawrence J. Speer

Copyright May 2001, Crain Communications Inc.

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