Marketing - it's a Barbie’s World

In case you have missed the news, the new Barbie movie finally launches today and the Mattel marketing team has delivered (albeit with the luxury of a seemingly unlimited budget)!

The carefully curated strategic campaign is reaching us all in a variety of ways, it has left us feeling like we NEED to see the film, or at the very least, find out more about the hype.  Plenty of tickets have already been booked by the Ceres team – so the WhatsApp group will be full of review chat all weekend!

With meticulous planning, the Barbie launch feels like it’s been coming for a long time, and that’s because it has!  Many brands report that deals have been in the making for years, with Mattel remaining true to delivering real fit with the Barbie brand.  What we’re seeing play out now is Barbie’s lifestyle plan - this is how Barbie would dress, talk, the things she would eat, what kind of candles she would have in her house, says this BBC article.

And let’s face it, Barbie has never been more relevant.  With a team of creatives most recently adapting the role and story of the infamous doll in response to demand for diversity and to inspire stories with ‘A Barbie for Me’.  Notable launches have included the first Barbie doll, with Down’s syndrome, hearing aids, prosthetic legs and vitiligo.

What may come as a surprise to marketeers with the Barbie Movie though, is the prevalence of the real-world stunts in this campaign. In a world where we have all become so used to seeing viral, online campaigns, perhaps this is reason too for its ability to have gained such standout and media attention.  Many of the stunts have been shared first by social users, rather the brand itself – while the @barbiethemovie Instagram account has amassed 1.2m followers at the time of writing, the main @barbie account retains its 2.9m fans sharing brand-led stories – like collabs with Billie Eilish this week adding to the power of brand Barbie.

Our favourite Barbie moments 

As reports suggest that the whole world seems to have gone Barbie mad, with the film even causing an international pink paint shortage, it’s fair to say there’s more than a buzz in the air.  And with a campaign spanning the dream touchpoints for any marketeer, brand and Barbie fan, it’s hard to pick a favourite moment or tactic, but here are just some of ours:

·  The iconic Barbie pink billboard, detailing only the film’s release date – relying on strength of brand and word of mouth

· My personal favourite saw Barbican Underground Station renamed BarbieCan – using branded Barbie font, which we think is a first?

· Lighting London pink with iconic landmarks turning pink in celebration

· Barbie’s DreamHouse in Malibu, available of course to rent via AirBNB!

· The Doctor Who Tardis, which landed at Tower Bridge, of course

· The Barbie AI Selfie generator (which we’ve of course over-used!)

· And the seemingly endless collaborations and licensing deals in the run up to launch, featuring the dream brands Xbox, Zara, Superga, Crocs…

There have been some foodie collabs, but could there have been more?  Were food brands caught off guard by the craze sweeping the globe?  At first glance, it seems so!

· But we’ve been saved by popcorn geniuses Propercorn, who had this one covered.  They  celebrated the launch by turning London buses pink! Because Barbie ‘looks like a snack’… and the brand is about to hit the streets of Shoreditch too with its Pop-Licence cornershop offering free popcorn and Barbie inspired glowups! 

· Burger King in Brazil unveiled a limited edition ‘pink burger’ with smokey pink sauce and of course a pink shake!

· And just yesterday a Manchester bakery introduced a Loafie window takeover with a life-sized version of Barbie in her iconic pink convertible car.

One thing we have learnt with this launch is that there’s always more just around the corner – so watch this space!

Perhaps the question now is how will brands follow in Barbie’s footsteps? Or will they take a leaf from Oppenheimer, also released on Friday 21 July, in a return to low-key launches - notable for its cast leaving the premiere early in support of fellow actor strikes, and internet phenomena Barbenheimer – perhaps again seamlessly riding on Barbie’s coattail?

What have we learnt from the Barbie marketing campaign?

Now we’re not for one moment suggesting that we can all follow in the footsteps of this campaign – we can certainly all dream of big Barbie budgets, but what can we take from it are learnings and observations of the successes, and how we can take this forward:

· Repetition of a clear message, clear creative – the who, what, when, has been crystal clear in this case.  Barbie, the movie, launches on 21 July – and you need to see it (so does your mum, your boss, your best friend, your neighbour…)

·  Make it nostalgic – it could be said that we often look to the past with rose tinted spectacles, which in the case of Barbie is a dream come true for Mattel. But in this case, bottling childhood memories has created excitement from the doll’s original target audience, it’s current target audience, and all while bringing new fans in to the fold!

· Make it relatable – with so many brand collaborations, too many to mention, Barbie has spanned so many audiences, demographics, genders, and ages with something for everyone!

· Keep them guessing, and wanting more! – this campaign has been teased for more than a year, creating captivating content, stunts.  We often talk about new news, and the need to create more content and hooks to build out a story and make it relevant… Barbie (well, Mattel) has done just that with this marketing masterpiece.

So, who’s coming to the cinema? Come on Barbie, let’s go party!