When I was little, I owned more than one hundred Dolls (well, Barbie, Stacey, Skipper, Kelley, Teresa, the whole crew, really)…and two Kens (technically it was one and one Derek from Barbie and the Rockers, but I digress).

While I was playing with the beautifully groomed dolls, my grandma used to entertain me with stories of Barbra Millicent Roberts and her LONG TIME beau, Ken Carson (put a ring on it already, buddy) – both from Willows, Wisconsin – and their friends, Midge Hadley and Allan Sherwood. And I loved those stories, but to be honest, I always thought that my grandma was either highly informed or slightly delusional. I mean, where did she get these stories from? In my limited experience with Barbie (and Barbie commercials), I never saw any perceivable plot line. That was the stuff I made up with friends (you know, like Barbie was super mad at Stacey for kissing Ken while he was at the grocery store…) but a cohesive story was never confirmed nor denied by – where was grandma getting this stuff?

As it turns out (according to Wikipedia), she was completely right. She didn’t make all of that stuff up. That was Barbie’s story. When Barbie was launched born in 1959, she was born with a highly publicized story. Over time, throughout the generations, for better or worse that story faded to the background (I mean, how many of you can honestly say you knew Barbie’s middle name before reading this?).

Mattel tried to bring back national interest in the Ken and Barbie saga in 2004 when they announced that the most stable relationship in most people’s lives was ending: Barbie and Ken were heading for splitsville. Unfortunately for Mattel, no one seemed to care…until now.

Mattel has launched a fully campaign to try and get those two crazy, plastic kids to reconcile their differences – and it really is quite remarkable. They are putting the “story” back in “storybook romance”. Here’s how they’ve laid it out so far:

Ken is desperate to get Barbie back. To prove his love he has taken to the internet to start the wooing – but it doesn’t end there. In addition to his Facebook page, Twitter feed and Foursquare presence, Ken has put some ad dollars behind his quest and has even put up billboards begging for Barbie to come back. And Barbie, who has always been pretty social media savvy, is asking “her girls” what she should do. You can weigh in, too via website, Facebook, or even text.

Perhaps the coolest part of this campaign is how fans are reacting – they are talking to Barbie and Ken (who you’ll remember are plastic) as though they are lifelong friends. And that can be attributed to the fact that across all three social profiles, the storyline stays cohesive and entertaining.

That is the key. That is the secret in the sauce: Cohesive. Entertaining.

It doesn’t get easier (or harder) than that. “Entertaining” is actually something that many people/agencies/brands can do quite well. It’s “cohesive” that eludes the best of them. It’s the connecting thread of the fantasy we all used to make up in our heads coming to life. And as a “real person”, Ken has to keep his story straight – across any medium he’s using. One message, one call to action, millions of ways to say it.

What Mattel is doing is reigniting a nation’s interest in a product that everyone knows and only moms of seven year old girls think about. Come on, that deserves a “wow”.

Will marketing Ken and Barbie’s conflama (conflict + drama) to the masses really help move dolls? The jury is still out. Does it have this marketer reminiscing about the time Teresa and Kelley wanted to date Derek at the same time but he was in love with Stacey? Absolutely.