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Whether you’ve just spent last weekend reading the Barbie reviews or managed to go watch the movie, one thing is for certain: there’s almost nobody who isn’t wildly impressed by the movie’s mega marketing campaigns.
And as we are amongst the humble few who get to take a page out of the Barbie textbook, we decided to dissect this world-famous marketing case study and how it has reshaped movie marketing for years to come.
Barbie Re-defines the Marketing Spectrum
If there was ever a rule that you can only market within a certain range of ideas, Barbie certainly defied said rule. With an estimated $150 million marketing budget, Barbie became an experience everyone wanted to enjoy. From scented candles, and merchandise, to Xbox controllers, and an Airbnb dreamhouse, the movie acquired massive excitement for its release; even from non-Barbie fans.
So, let’s see all the stops the Barbie team pulled out for its movie launch.
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In this particular marketing case, the Barbie marketing team proved that mere merchandise was passé; and opted for more creative marketing stunts. Collaborating with 100+ brands, pink was an ever-green trend this summer. ZARA, Forever21, Xbox, Crocs, GAP, Krispy Kreme, Burger King, Pinkberry, Balmain, and Coldstone Creamery are just among the herd of retail partnerships that Barbie sealed ahead of its movie premiere.
Health & Beauty Collaborations
Another admirable marketing tactic Mattel used was creating Barbie clones worldwide. And that meant giving them the right beauty tools. From an NYX Cosmetics makeup kit to an LÓreal Barbie flat iron, Barbie fans had 12 collaborations to impersonate their favorite Barbie dolls.
Had enough of Barbie merch? How about a tour of Barbie’s Dreamhouse by Margot Robbie? Better yet, why not stay in the Malibu Dreamhouse yourself through Airbnb?
Sparing no expense in submersing people in the Barbie experience, the marketing team managed to secure a Malibu mansion that underwent a great makeover and became Barbie’s Malibu dreamhouse that people can now rent for vacations through Airbnb.
If you think media collaboration is meant in the traditional sense here, think again. Barbie’s marketing team sought out certain platforms that would uniquely generate Barbie buzz. Amongst its 9 media collaborations, Barbie collaborated with the Washington Post in producing a newsletter called Unboxed.
In addition to that, they also joined forces with Pinterest; where an ad called “Not Just Ken” promotes Barbie collaborations on curated Barbie- and Ken-themed boards. Another fun partnership was one with Google where the screen turns pink and sparkles appear when you search for “Barbie”, “Barbie movie”, or “Margot Robbie”.
Organic Media: Barbie’s Real Force Majeure
In a recent Variety interview, Warner Bros. president of global marketing Josh Goldstin asserted that the bigger portion of Barbie’s success was organically earned; once again proving that Barbie’s marketing team is a force to be reckoned with.
Utilizing the breadcrumb strategy, Barbie’s marketing team slowly reeled their customers in by evoking curiosity and excitement at several customer touchpoints ahead of the premiere.
This started with their teaser trailer where world-famous director Grega Gerwig lured her audiences in with a rather unconventional opening scene. This is because it was a parody rendition of Stanley Kubrick’s acclaimed 2001: Space Odyssey; where Margot Robbie replaced the famed monolith. Naturally, this stimulated a conversation amongst Barbie audiences that just kept on growing.
Four months later, Warner Bros. released the second teaser trailer which featured more shots from the film.
This, in turn, created a lot of organic circulation of Barbie’s content. Shortly after that, the Barbie team no longer had to worry about organic engagement. Their job was done.
Barbenheimer: A Coincidence that Worked in Barbie’s Favor
Aside from the Barbie team’s radical efforts to promote the movie, there is also another force to be reckoned with. And that is the dual premiere of Barbie and Christopher Nolan’s biographical thriller; Oppenheimer.
Once again creating organic buzz around this topic, fans started producing meme-like content about choosing which movie to watch since both shared the same opening night.
Everyone is A Barbie
If you browse through your Instagram feed at least once a day, you’ve surely come across the Barbie filter and selfie generator. Once again putting the concept of individuality to excellent use, this filter generator allowed fans and influencers to hop aboard the Barbie bandwagon and enjoy being a Barbie.
In fact, the filter became so popular that even Instagram businesses used it under the hashtag #ThisBarbie, as well as meme-related pages, Korean drama pages, fitness businesses, real estate brokers, and many more.
The Devil Works Hard but the Barbie Team Works Even Harder
Aside from their pink-infused collaborations, the Barbie marketing team has had a long-standing history of marketing triumphs of its own.
As we very well know, nostalgic marketing works best with older generations who have had the time to build a sentiment toward a product. And what better nostalgia to leverage than that of a Barbie doll?
Since the first Barbie doll was released in 1959, the toymaking giant, Mattel has since created several touchpoints for Barbie consumers and buyers to forge a relationship with the doll. Be it as a parent or older sibling who used to buy it for a child; or the child who has grown to like playing with the doll and has preserved it since.
Moreover, as social issues such as racism raised, Mattel cunningly released the first black Barbie doll in 1980 to promote social inclusion amongst Barbie users. In the early 2000s, the enterprise delved into other marketing tactics such as the release of its first movie; Barbie in The Nutcracker, followed by figurines and marketing campaigns that paid tribute to globally influential female figures.
And because of this rather impressive streak of decisions, the movie premiere drew in both avid Barbie fans and newly acquired admirers.
The True Power of A Multi-Racial Community
By now, you might have realized something: Barbie’s movie premiere curated a rather diverse pool of admirers.
But did you ponder its contribution to the movie’s blitzing success?
Barbie’s choice of protagonists and secondary performers served as a magnetic force of its own when it came to gathering a crowd. By choosing both highly popular actors -Robbie and Gosling- and a multi-racial cast, the movie attracted viewers from several nationalities as well as new Barbie fans that solely came to see their favorite actors in a brand new movie. Featuring British, French, American, and Canadian actors all in the same movie certainly served the movie premier well.
Another form of social inclusion that was realized through Barbie’s marketing is the monumental diversity of brand collaborations they managed to secure. By making such affiliations with those brands, Barbie immediately gained the emotional appeal of those brand’s customers; even if they hadn’t gone to see the movie.
A closing statement?
Less may be more, but in Barbie’s case, more was definitely better.