Life in plastic, it’s fantastic. How Barbie has taken over the marketing universe.
It’s Barbie’s world, we just live in it.
With the new Barbie movie set to premier on July 21st, it has been somewhat impossible to miss the promotional tactics that have seemingly taken over each and every platform.
Hats off to Mattel, their strategy is impressive to say the least, leveraging the universally identifiable brand color, clever product partnerships, AI and interactivity. Whether you played with Barbies as a kid or not, the clever marketing has managed to ignite the interest of a fresh audience – adults.
They say, “The devil works hard, but the Barbie movie marketing team works harder.” There’s a lot to be learned here.
Of course, any well established brand immediately have a head start when it comes to making an impact with their marketing tactics, and it’s undeniable that Barbie is a heavyweight brand, and it’s fully aware of its power. What other brand could erect a billboard in a specific shade of pink, confident that anybody who sees that specific hue will automatically think of Barbie.
Mattel has put on an absolute marketing masterclass in preparation for Barbie’s first cinema release this month. 🍿
This is one of my favourite examples.
One the strongest (and most trending) brands in the world can put up a blank single coloured billboard with a date and you… pic.twitter.com/YJXbBV8gBV
— Bill Kerr (@bill_kerrrrr) July 4, 2023
Yes, you read that right – a pink billboard, no words, just a date, and yet, it screams “Barbie!” The movie marketing team know their brands power and have used it to the max. This marketing genius couldn’t have been pulled off without the doll’s impressive six-decade stint!
Eliana Dockterman from TIME hit the nail on the head when she compared Barbie’s global recognition to that of brands like Coca-Cola. From the shape of the doll’s foot to the meticulous design of sets and costumes, every unique detail has been brought to life in the live-action film.
— Reece Wilson V2.023 (@reecemysocksoff) July 12, 2023
But let’s be real; even a titan like Barbie has faced its fair share of controversy. Despite its well-meaning intentions of encouraging kids to dream big, the brand faced backlash for promoting unrealistic body images.
2016 saw Mattel introducing Barbies with diverse body types in an effort to regain lost ground. However, recovery was slow, as seen from the dip in annual net sales from $6.5 billion to $4.5 billion between 2013 and 2018.
So, how does the Barbie movie marketing handle this controversy? With open arms. The trailer confidently proclaims, “If you love Barbie, this movie is for you. If you hate Barbie, this movie is for you.” Hello confidence!
The team’s ingenious use of AI and interactivity in their campaign is nothing short of genius. They’ve created a tool that lets people upload their photos to create a personalised film poster, which flooded our social media feeds (including many companies jumping on the back of “this barbie is..” trend) and gave rise to countless memes.
Incorporating AI, promoting interactivity, and encouraging widespread sharing – the holy grail of buzz creation and promotion.
Barbie’s even taken the Metaverse and gaming world by storm. Forever 21 not only launched a Barbie clothing line in physical stores but also in the virtual Roblox universe. Xbox is bringing Barbie into its sphere with contests and in-game replicas of Barbie’s movie assets.
Let’s not forget the merch – the endless variety of Barbie products designed in collaboration with a multitude of brands. MAny of these products now target adults, aligning perfectly with the movie’s audience.
From the opportunity to stay at Barbie’s Malibu DreamHouse via Airbnb to a Barbie-themed toothbrush, the merch is endless.
While the live-action marketing team has done an excellent job, a significant chunk of the Barbie movie’s marketing success comes from Mattel’s dedication to the brand. They’ve managed to stay current by exploring trending areas such as AI, the Metaverse, and the gaming world, all while targeting a new audience.
Barbie marketing team really said “what if we had everyone live in a Barbie world” and proceeded to collaborate with literally every sector touched by consumers. And they were so right for this pic.twitter.com/GrZcQfprCu
— 𝓐𝓷𝓰𝓮𝓵 ☁️🏹 (@angelmillk) July 11, 2023
In the end, it’s a world driven by buzz and strategic brand partnerships. Like it or not, it’s a Barbie world — even in marketing.
More about Barbie and Mattel:
When was Mattel founded and what is its significance in the toy industry?
Mattel was founded in 1945 by Harold “Matt” Matson and Elliot Handler. It started as a picture frame company but soon shifted its focus to toys. Since then, Mattel has become a major player in the toy industry, known for creating iconic toys like Barbie, Hot Wheels, American Girl, and Fisher-Price.
Who owns Barbie?
Mattel owns Barbie, including the trademark for the Barbie name and the design and patents for the doll’s unique features. These features include jointed limbs and a swivel waist, among others. The Barbie doll was actually created by Ruth Handler, the wife of Elliot Handler, who co-founded Mattel. Ruth named the doll after her daughter Barbara.
What other popular brands does Mattel own?
In addition to Barbie, Mattel owns several other well-known brands. These include Fisher-Price, Hot Wheels, and Thomas & Friends. With such a diverse portfolio, Mattel offers a wide range of toys catering to different age groups and interests.
How long has Barbie been around and what makes her so popular?
Barbie has been around for over 60 years and is one of the most iconic dolls in the world. Her popularity has remained strong over the years, with fans of all ages around the globe. The combination of Mattel’s innovative designs, Barbie’s diverse range of careers and outfits, and her ability to inspire imagination and storytelling has lead to the brands massive and sustained success.
What role did Mattel play in the creation of the Barbie movie?
Mattel, as the owner of Barbie, likely had a significant role in the development and production of the Barbie movie. As the creators of the iconic doll, Mattel would want to ensure that the movie stays true to the essence of Barbie and captures her spirit.