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The BoF Podcast | Richard Dickson on How to Recapture the Magic of Gap

CEO Richard Dickson, the executive responsible for Barbiemania in 2023, is now trying to give Gap the same treatment.
Imran Amed and Richard Dickson at BoF VOICES 2023.
Imran Amed and Richard Dickson at BoF VOICES 2023. (Getty Images)
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Background:

This year, Barbie-mania swept the globe. A key architect of that phenomenon was Richard Dickson, who served as president and chief operating officer of Barbie’s parent company, Mattel, for almost a decade. There, he revived Barbie, a name that had lost its cultural relevance, and brought it firmly back into the zeitgeist. Now, Dickson is taking his talent for revitalising fading icons to Gap, where he was appointed CEO in July 2023.

“Evolution keeps the brand relevant, but purpose makes a brand immortal,” says Dickson.

This week on The BoF Podcast, Dickson joins BoF founder and editor-in-chief Imran Amed to discuss the power of brands and his vision for rebooting Gap in a live conversation from BoF VOICES 2023.

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Key Insights:

  • When Dickson arrived at Mattel, the Barbie brand was at a low point, with lagging sales and diminished relevance. Dickson pushed the brand to embrace dolls with different body types and ethnicities. “The process itself was really going back to the roots, going back to the purpose … What made it so great to begin with? The origin story of the brand was that it was designed to inspire the limitless potential of girls,” he explains.
  • Determining purpose is what fuelled his work at Mattel; now, he’s applying the same mindset at Gap. “There can be nothing more inspiring than taking that cue and figuring out how to create that cultural conversation today, using our brands as a platform to actually create a better world.”
  • Dickson recognises that Gap needs a stronger point of view. “We’re not going to get to where we want overnight. But we have extraordinary people. We have a culture that is going to be unlocked with extraordinary creativity… and I am privileged and honoured to be the leader at this particular time,” he says.

Additional Resources:

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