Mattel is suing over Nicky Minaj's 'Barbie-Que' chips

We've seen all kinds of collaborations between celebs and food brands over the years. After all, the West Coast gangsta rapper Snoop Dogg even has a children's breakfast cereal. But one pun-happy collaboration between a snack company and the Trinidadian artist Nicky Minaj hasn't amused everyone.

Minaj, who uses Barbie as a nickname and whose discography includes the tracks Barbie Dreams and Barbie Tingz, has been treated to her own signature 'Barbie-que' flavour potato chips from US snack maker Rap Snacks. With a honey truffle flavour (obviously), the chips come in packaging that features Minaj with pink hair, a pink dress and a Barbie pendant, and a font that bears more than a passing resemblance to the official Barbie logo. And if the snack company thought Barbie's manufacturer might not notice, it was very wrong. It should perhaps read our guide to how designers can deal with plagiarism.

Rap Snacks describes itself as the Official Snacks of Hip Hop since 1994 and it's produced signature flavours for a range of rappers, including Snoop Dogg, Lil Baby and Master P. But the toymaker Mattel is suing Raps Snacks for unfair competition and false designation of origin and federal trademark dilution. Its main beef is with the text on the packaging, which includes a font that looks rather similar to a previous iteration of the Barbie logo used between 1999 and 2004.

According to court documents shared by Reuters, the company’s legal team alleges that Rap Snacks "made the deliberate and calculated choice to launch a new product line using Mattel’s famous Barbie trademark." Mattel says it didn't authorise use of its trademark and that Raps refused to drop the offending product or "correct the misimpression it foisted on the public." It noted that Mattel markets its own snacks using its Barbie trademark and claims that even Minaj's own legal team had doubts and questioned the snack maker about the legality of the packaging design.

Two Barbie logos

The Barbie logo between 1999 and 2004 (left) and the current Barbie logo (right) (Image credit: Mattel)

Nicky Minaj isn't the only rapper to find herself involved in a legal dispute over branding. Our Kanye West design roundup shows he's often the one who's upsetting big brands with his logo design debacles. For more dubious logo design decisions, see our pick of the worst logos of 2022 so far, and to create your own, hopefully better and more original designs, see our roundup of the best graphic design software.

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Joseph Foley

Joe is a regular freelance journalist and editor at Creative Bloq. He writes news and features, updates buying guides and keeps track of the best equipment for creatives, from monitors to accessories and office supplies. A writer and translator, he also works as a project manager at London and Buenos Aires-based design, production and branding agency Hermana Creatives, where he manages a team of designers, photographers and video editors who specialise in producing photography, video content, graphic design and collaterals for the hospitality sector. He enjoys photography, particularly nature photography, wellness and he dances Argentine tango.