Who Knew Barbie Was a Marketing Genius?

It could be argued that the biggest star of the Barbie movie was not Barbie herself (portrayed by actress Margot Robbie), but instead the eerily talented marketing team that paved the way for the film to attain record-breaking box office sales – $162 million to be exact – within the first few days of its release. Between dozens of unexpected brand partnerships (pink cheeseburgers, anyone?), viral memes, and of course, iconic Barbie pink merch, these past few months have proven it’s a Barbie world and we’re all just living in it. 

We asked our team members which Barbie marketing tactics stood out the most to them and while some had specific tactics come to mind, many thought the overall marketing strategy was at the core of its genius.  

“I think what’s most refreshing is they [the Barbie team] are just having a ball and not taking themselves too seriously. Everyone is so self-important online, and we need to remember to have fun as well. Brands don’t need to be 100% buttoned-up and boring.”Joe Kahler, Co-Director of Digital Marketing 

The unexpected brand partnership with Airbnb that helped bring Barbie’s legendary Malibu dreamhouse to life, proved to us that life in plastic certainly is fantastic. With Ken as the “host”, Airbnb showed their playful side with their listing, “Located in sunny Malibu, the oceanfront mansion features panoramic views and serves as the perfect backdrop for Ken’s picture-plastic paradise. Fans will be able to request to book Ken’s bedroom in the Malibu DreamHouse for two individual one-night stays** for up to two guests each on July 21 and July 22, 2023. All stays will be free of charge – because Ken couldn’t figure out how to put a price on Barbie’s Malibu DreamHouse – after all, Ken’s thing is beach, not math!”

“Humor subversively sells the merch while also honoring the “dream” of Barbie. And there is so much merch! Of course, tapping into the controversy and myriad of interpretations and definitions of fashion, femininity and feminism (a conversation around long before Barbie was made) brought tons of attention too. Yet it’s the humor that truly captures this cultural moment – and brings new audiences. In other words: perfect marketing.” —Terri Lee, Account Director

We think this video, Ken Things Ryan Gosling Can’t Live Without, speaks for itself.

Barbie is for everybody. 

“The Barbie movie is far more credible, as opposed to what I thought was going to be an audience of pink-obsessed little girls. As someone who didn’t have a Barbie doll (they were not anatomically correct, my mom said) I assumed the movie would be fluffy and silly. But with Greta Gerwig directing, plus all the companies jumping on the bandwagon, I feel less embarrassed about wanting to see the film!”Jen Malchiodi, Account Director

Barbie is not just breaking hearts, she’s breaking stereotypes. Brands like Xbox and Playground Games, a popular video game developer, that are closely related to masculinity, have collaborated with Barbie to bridge the gap between Barbie’s femininity and the male audience. These types of unexpected partnerships send a refreshing message: if you love Barbie, if you hate Barbie, this movie is for you.

Even dating apps, like Bumble, are in Barbieland this summer. Bumble teamed up with the movie to turn Barbie and Ken into dating coaches for their app users. The app is running a new experience where users can get motivation from all the Barbies and Kens featured in the movie. 

Pink is the new black! 

The Barbie team has done an excellent job embracing pop culture. Barbie has attracted more than 100 brand partners, from custom pink Crocs to a Prada clothing line to hair dryers — and everything in between. Barbie Pink took off in a way nobody expected with “Barbiecore”, a homage to the stylish doll, whose brand identity is undeniably feminine and very, very pink.

Many of these brands hopped on the bandwagon to become a part of Barbiecore. Warner Bros. president of global marketing, Josh Goldstine, mentioned recently that many of the partnerships were not a part of the initial marketing strategy and took it upon themselves to embrace Barbie Pink for the summer, a rare occurrence in his 35 years of movie marketing. “Fashion, frankly, jumped onto the bandwagon. Brands wanted to become part of this because they saw the film was finding its way into culture in such a dynamic way. It stopped becoming a marketing campaign and took on the quality of a movement,” said Goldstine. 

The Barbie x Béis luggage collection is inspired by the movie’s signature pink:

Burger King Brazil’s Barbie-themed meal is the perfect example of Barbiecore in the unexpected:

We’ve always known Barbie is a doctor, lawyer, astronaut and teacher – just to name a few. However, Barbie? A marketing aficionado? That’s a new one for us! But based on the success of the marketing campaign and the overall movie, we would gladly hire Barbie on the Philosophy team!

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