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Banning Barbie
The Institute for Intellectual Development of
Children and Young Adults has declared Barbie a
cultural threat to Iran. The tall, blond, blue-eyed
doll represents the American woman who never
wants to get old or pregnant. She wears makeup
and indecent clothes. She drinks champagne in
the company of boyfriend doll Ken. To replace
Barbie, the Institute has designed Sara. Sara has
darker skin and black hair, and she wears the traditional floor-length chador.
Since its Islamic Revolution over 25 years ago
Iran has been particularly wary of Western influences. In the mid-1990s, a Coca-Cola factory was
shut down for "promoting American culture."
A call to ban Barbie is not popular with all
Iranians, however. Toy-store owners think Barbie
is about business, not culture, and many moderate Iranians oppose attempts to protect national
culture by force and prohibitions.
In the Arab world at large, Barbie remains the
most popular doll among affluent consumers, but
she is about to face new competition. The proposed Leila doll will attempt to give Arab girls a
feeling of pride in belonging to their own culture.
Leila will have black eyes and hair and will look
about ten years old. Her wardrobe options will
include Western outfits as well as traditional
dresses from the various Arab regions, such as
Egypt, Syria, and the Gulf states.
Both Sara and Leila will have brother dolls,
not boyfriend dolls. The idea of having a
boyfriend is a concept not acceptable to most
Middle Eastern families. Sara's brother, Dara, is
dressed in the coat and turban of a Muslim cleric
or mullah. Arab children have suggested grandparent dolls for Leila.
The Arab League has sponsored feasibility
studies to interest private-sector investors in producing Leila and her family. However, both Leila
and Sara will enjoy government subsidies.

Currently, 90 percent of toys in the Middle East
are imported. High tariffs on imported raw materials have made it cheaper to import toys than to
produce them locally. Sara and Leila will sell at
about $10, whereas Barbie commands between
$30 and $150 in the capital cities of Cairo and
In the United States, competition was also
emerging. A manufacturer in Livonia, Michigan,
introduced a Razanne doll for Muslim Americans.
The doll's creator claimed that the main message
of the doll was that what matters is what's inside
you, not how you look. Razanne had the body of
a preteen and came in three types: fair-skinned
blond, olive-skinned with black hair, and black
skin with black hair. Her clothing was modest but
her aspirations were those of "a modern Muslim
woman." For example, there was a Muslim Girl
Scout Razanne and the manufacturers were discussing the possibility of an Astronaut Razanne.

Discussion Questions
1. Why is Barbie popular in the Middle East?
2. Should Muslim countries ban Barbie? Why or
why not?
3. Should local producers receive subsidies for
making Sara and Leila? Why or why not?
4. Where might Razanne be exported? What cultural adaptations might be necessary to market
this doll overseas?
Sources: Hasan Mrove, "Arabs to Make Their Own
Decently Dressed, Dark Haired, Dark Eyed Barbies,"
Deutsche Presse-Agentur, June 16, 1999; "Toy Shop Owners
in Tehran Dismiss Barbie Threat," Deutsche Presse-Agentur,
October 23, 1996; "Iran's Sara Challenges Barbie Doll,"
Toronto Star, October 28,1996, p. A2; Tarek El-Tablawy,
"Doll Offers Modest Image for Muslim Girls," Associated
Press, October 8, 2003.

turmeric. Maya.CASE 8. new production units were established in Bangalore and Madras to serve the whole South Indian market. R. which ones? SIFL began as a company selling only three items but had quickly expanded to a dozen products. ground nuts. salt. however. and vinegar. was deep in thought in his office at corporate headquarters in Coimbatore. India. Soon. Should SIFL enter foreign markets? If so. and flours that formed the ingredients of traditional South Indian cooking. Pradesh. Mr. and West Bengal.1 Indian Food Goes Global Mr. Then three more manufacturing units were established in the states of Maharashtra. Andhra . The mix was next bottled and vacuum-sealed to preserve the traditional homemade flavor and aroma of tamarind mix. its Maami's Tamarind Mix consisted of mustard. president of South Indian Foods Limited (SIFL). coriander powder. Krishnan. curry leaves. asafetida.uture of his company. and dried chilies fried in oil and then combined with tamarind extract. SIFL estimated that its share of market varied between 19 and 27 percent across its product categories in the . Krishnan was pondering the J. It produced and marketed batters. after returning from a weeklong business trip to the United States. The company began to market its products in and around Coimbatore. Eleven years earlier he had founded SIFL with the help of his wife. Now. For example. pastes.

Recently. Although the Chinese and Japanese are accustomed to rice. Krishnan raised the question of international expansion at an emergency board meeting. Why not the United Kingdom? It has a considerable South Indian population. new competitors had entered the market. B. SIFL attributed part of its success to its promotional efforts. As you know.S. Handbills. It used advertising campaigns in local radio and newspapers. SIFL will face competitors such as Kraft in the United States. however. were distributed in newspapers in selected cities. the raw materials necessary for making our products are readily available. What are the advantages of targeting Indian populations residing in foreign countries? What problems might arise? 3. Our market research also reveals that our dishes are even favored by native Americans. avoid.territories where it competed.S. Their market shares were slightly lower than those of SIFL. SIFL attempted to avoid adding new product lines that might have to compete head-on with aggressive competitors. To investigate the competitive environment for these products in your country. competitors respond to SIFLs entry into the market? 6. What are SIFL's motivations for expanding abroad? 2. market. SUNDER:We have to be optimistic about the U. KRISHNAN:What about Asia? In South Asia. I believe we could easily create a niche overseas. What are the pros and cons of entering the United States first? The United Kingdom? Neighboring Asian markets? 4. Is there any advantage or disadvantage to this product being "Made in India"? 5. What overall posture should SIFL adopt in relation to these strong competitors-attack. When Mr. Some of the managers' comments were as follows: KRISHNAN:Why can't we think of going international? Our strategy did very well in the Indian market. MAYA:I do not think targeting all of Asia is a viable option. . DINAKAR:Why not set up production facilities in the United States or the United Kingdom? I believe production overseas would be a better choice than exporting to these markets. Used by permission. most of these Asian countries are culturally different from India. the Indian population there is large enough to absorb our product. but we are forgetting the fact that in the U. or cooperate? How might U. What Indian foods or food products are sold there? Do they appear to be targeted at ethnic communities or at a wider segment? What firms make these products? What insights could your visit give SIFL? X Source: This case is based on South Indian Foods Limited (A) by K. In response to increased competition. visit a local grocery store or supermarket. The company also offered sample packets of its batter products. Discussion Questions 1. With our state-of-the-art production facilities and marketing expertise.S. SHANKAR:I accept your views. All these efforts had helped make Maami's a household name in South India. Saji. there was great enthusiasm but little agreement. market we have to compete with powerful packaged-food companies. printed in the local language of the different Indian states.