‘EcoWarrior Barbie’ Hoax Campaign Fools Some News Outlets

The activist campaign included fake Mattel press releases and elaborate video advertisements

A faux campaign led by environmental activists tricked some media outlets into reporting that Mattel would be launching a line of environmentally friendly Barbies and would be going entirely plastic-free by 2030. 

The elaborate campaign claimed that Mattel would be soon launching a line of “EcoWarrior” Barbie dolls made from decomposable materials including mushrooms, algae, and clay. 

The activist group who conducted the campaign, the Barbie Liberation Organization, included fake press releases and advertisements claiming to be from Mattel. The activist organization used the opportunity of the blockbuster “Barbie” film to call attention to plastic use within the toy industry. 

In a clip that served as a fake commercial, environmental activist Daryl Hannah discusses detrimental plastic usage while picking a Barbie up from her stroll on the beach. 

“Barbie and I are about the same age, except she will never die,” said Hannah referencing the barnacle-encrusted doll in her hand. The environmental activist claimed that more than a billion Barbies have been abandoned in landfills, warning of the dangers of plastic waste. 

In another fake commercial, young girls promote “EcoWarrior” Barbies which are designed to represent environmental activists like Greta Thunberg. The depiction of the dolls includes using bolt cutters to break into a facility with the Shell logo on the gate, launching soup at paintings in a museum like Just Stop Oil campaigns, and even tossing Molotov cocktails at Russian President Vladimir Putin, all while singing along to a jingle with the lyrics “corporate criminal sabotage.” 

According to an email from Mattel, the campaign is a “hoax” and has no relation to the toy manufacturing giant. “Those were duplicates — not Mattel actual sites,” the company said of faux websites that popped up from the campaign. 

Even with Mattel’s confirmation that the environmentally progressive campaign was fake, some news outlets including The Washington Times, People, and MarketWatch fell for it anyway, publishing content on the “EcoWarrior” dolls. 

As of Tuesday afternoon, the articles about the faux campaign have been removed from the outlets. The Washington Times issued an editor’s note acknowledging and correcting their faux pas. 

“The Washington Times has confirmed from Mattel Corp. that the article about new Barbie dolls that appeared here was based on an elaborate media hoax,” said the note. “We have removed the story from our website pending further investigation into the origins of the hoax.”

While Mattel has not committed to removing all plastic from its products by 2030, the company has announced a plan to reduce its plastic usage. Last year, Mattel said it would reduce plastic packaging by 25% by 2030. The toy giant also set a goal that their products would all use recyclable or “bio-based plastic materials,” by 2030.