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  • Writer's pictureAdicator Digital Marketing Agency

From Toy Shelves to Movie Theatres: Deciphering Barbie’s Marketing Strategies

Updated: Jan 23

I don’t want to know how much you didn’t rate Barbie as a kid or how inactive you are in the digital space, so far you have a device connected to this wonderful thing called the internet; there’s no way you missed out on the entire buzz around the Barbie movie by Greta Gerwig who currently holds the top spot for the biggest opening weekend earning for a solo female filmmaker.

Yes! You heard right. Barbie surpassed Captain Marvel which made $153.4 million in its opening weekend in 2019!

Compared to Greta’s 40 million budget for her last masterpiece ‘Little Women.’ A whopping $145 million budget was said to have been allocated to Barbie, which is totally separate from its $145 million production budget.

$162 million was made during its opening weekend and it has achieved a phenomenal global success of $337 million.

Some people have bickered about how the marketing team was able to build up this magnitude of hype around the movie because the Barbie doll has been loved globally since 1996.

While some creatives would gladly kiss the ground the marketing team walk on because their marketing marketed and gave everything it was supposed to — what’s wrong with this Gen Z writer?

I mean, the marketing was meticulously planned and executed to perfection!

Did the pre-existence and success of the Barbie doll play a significant role in its favorable outcome? Definitely. However, the marketing could have been a total flop if it wasn’t executed properly. They went hand in hand if you ask me.

Here are some partnerships I loved seeing:

  1. From a simple Google search of the Barbie movie, Google showers your screen with pink confetti.

2. Aldo revealed some breath-taking Barbie-themed shoes and bags.

3. NYX cosmetics released a special line of Barbie-themed makeup.

4. Cold Stone created a Barbie cake and ice cream flavor that can only be purchased in cinemas.

5. Starbucks created a Barbie Frappuccino drink.

6. A Barbie-themed dream house in Malibu that could be booked for two nights on Air Bnb.

7. OPI launched a collection of Barbie nail polishes on July 1st.

8. An Xbox-themed console adorned with the iconic Barbie playhouse design.

9. Architectural Digest took a tour of the Barbie Dream house featuring Margot Robbie herself.

10. Margot Robbie wore some mind-blowing Barbie-themed outfits by Channel before the release.

Oh, yeah — The Barbie soundtrack featured some of our favorite artists: including Nicki Minaj, Dua Lipa, and Ice Spice, Lizzo, Sam Smith, Khalid, Ava Max, Billie Eilish, and much more!

So what are some valuable lessons for marketers from the movie?

  1. 1. Tap into Sentimentality:

  2. Barbie played a significant role in many individuals’ childhood. Getting the audience to tap into that nostalgia built an emotional connection and played to their advantage, giving room for powerful storytelling!

Your audience is more likely to engage when they feel a personal connection. Drawing upon shared memories and experiences, especially with something as iconic as Barbie created an immediate bond.

It isn’t just a trip down memory lane; it’s about understanding shared experiences, growth, and the hopes and dreams that bind us all.

2. Leverage Social Media: The digital age demands more than having a presence on social media; it requires adapting to rapidly changing trends.

Barbie’s marketing team generated massive engagement by using the popular Barbie soundtrack to create new pop jams and leveraging these new songs to get over a million people on Tiktok and Instagram to create viral content.

If you want your content to go viral on social media, you need to create what your audience can connect with.

Do I need to repeat this? Because I will, utilize social media to its fullest potential to build hype and engagement!

3. Maintain Brand Identity: Despite undergoing changes to reflect societal shifts and tapping into pop culture, Barbie’s core message of empowerment remained intact.

The pink color has been associated with Barbie for so long, and even though there are multiple shades of this color, the brand’s iconic pink (which is trademarked, by the way) serves as a timeless visual cue, making the brand instantly recognizable.

Once the pink color Barbie uses is spotted, it’s easy to link it to the brand. As your brand evolves, preserving its original essence and values is crucial!

4. Be Inclusive: Barbie got more and more inclusive over the years, representing different races, body types, and occupations.

This inclusion was reflected in their movie cast as well.

Inclusiveness helps your brand resonate with diverse audiences and indicates that everyone’s story is worth telling.

5. Create unique experiences: The Barbie Dream House, for example, is an experience that captures the imagination. Creating a memorable experience your audience can enjoy is paramount for a brand.

It doesn’t have to be a $7 million Malibu house experience, though; think of Coke’s ‘Share a Coke with Me’ campaign, where personalized Coke bottles were created, leveraging personalization to connect with consumers on a more intimate level.

Or Spotify’s end-of-year “Wrapped” campaign, which gives users insights into their listening habits over the past year, showing top songs, artists, and more. While it’s a digital experience, it feels personal since it’s based on individual listening habits.

Brands should take a page from Barbie’s book and consider creating immersive experiences that resonate with their audience and etch memorable brand impressions.

6. Partnerships and Collaborations

No brand is an island! For a globally recognized brand like Barbie to leverage partnerships, that says more than enough.

Collaborating with other brands gives you the chance to tap into their audiences and significantly amplify your brand exposure.

Every brand has its audience, so collaborating with other brands brings you closer to getting what you’re advertising across a larger scale.

7. Bigger Budget, Bigger Doings: An age-old business principle holds — you need to spend money to make money.

Especially in today’s competitive landscape, brands with the necessary resources should not hesitate to invest generously in their marketing efforts.

A well-funded marketing campaign can often result in a more significant return on investment and deliver long-term brand benefits.

There’s nothing like too much!

Marketing a movie is different from marketing a product.

With a product, you’re selling a tangible item with apparent, definable features and benefits that directly cater to a customer’s needs or desires.

You have the advantage of demonstrating its use, describing how it works, and even offering trials in many instances.

However, a movie is intangible, a one-time experience.

The value proposition is based on eliciting emotions and offering entertainment, which is inherently subjective.

While a product can have a long lifespan with continuous sales opportunities, a movie typically has a high-impact release period followed by a sharp decline!

So yes, go all out, go crazy when marketing a movie! You should ride on that inital buzz for as long as you can.

Creating the necessary hype within this narrow window is challenging; Barbie pulled it off, and it sure is a privilege to be alive at a time when brilliant marketing is executed.

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