What We Learned from The Barbie Movie Marketing Strategy

barbie marketing

Barbie was created as a children’s toy, that grew to become a popular icon over the years. So, when Mattel decided to take its iconic doll to the big screen, the stakes were high. The outcome was a marketing strategy that not only propelled the film to blockbuster status but also reinvented the rules of branding and movie marketing. Barbie was always thought of as a children’s story, but Mattel’s marketing strategy made it much more than that. Barbie was a HIT this summer and there’s no doubt that the marketing team is to thank. From the buzz leading up to the movie to the brand collaborations, and all of the marketing efforts in between, this campaign revolutionized brand marketing.

Breaking down The Barbie Movie Marketing Strategy

The marketing strategy was built on more than simply promoting a film. It was about building an interactive experience outside of watching the movie, creating connections with the audience, and turning the story of Barbie into an emotional experience viewers could relate to.

The Power of Nostalgia

Nostalgia is a strong tool that marketers can use to appeal to people of all ages, genders, and backgrounds. The Barbie movie is not just for children. Using the power of nostalgia, adults were drawn to the movie to feel the emotions and memories Barbie connects them to. Starting with trailers and advertisements, the focus was always on the classic Barbie enticing older audiences to revisit their childhood. We all know how powerful nostalgia can be but leveraging this feeling through promotional content only made anticipation for the film grow.

Digital Platforms

It’s no surprise that marketing campaigns will turn to digital platforms to spread the word, and Barbie is no exception. They used engaging social media content, memes, interactive games, behind-the-scenes glimpses, and so much more. Turning the movie into an interactive experience invited a larger audience to participate in the campaign as well as strengthened the connection with the target audience.

Influencers and UGC

Influencer marketing and user-generated content helped to solidify the desire to see the movie and participate in the ‘Barbie experience’ by building on the concept of social proof. Social proof is the psychological idea that people follow the actions or interests of others. Working with fashion bloggers and lifestyle content creators expanded their brand reach to niche audiences. It used the tight-knit community to maximize the effects of social proof. Pairing this tactic with other campaign elements like leveraging the power of nostalgia and brand collaborations made each element of the strategy even more effective.

Barbie Merchandise and Partnerships

With the release of animated Barbie movies, it was common for Mattel to release a line of dolls or other toys that go along with the story. This Barbie movie was no different, except this time it wasn’t just children’s toys. Barbie collaborated with brands like Moon, Gap, Funboy, Kitsch, Béis, and so many more. From pink suitcases to Barbie pool floats the pink merchandise became an extension of the Barbie experience. This strategy was seamless, blurring the lines between content and commerce. Along with nostalgia, the tactics in this campaign showed us how powerful emotional marketing truly is. The result? Record-breaking sales for the movie and the brands Mattel partnered with.

Social Responsibility

Mattel has been criticized for years for the unrealistic beauty standards that Barbie creates. Recognizing the huge role this plays in society today, they took to the movie to highlight the diversity, empowerment, and self-acceptance they want Barbie to represent. This was a huge selling point for many who feel strongly about social responsibility and societal expectations. Beyond that, it made the movie appealing to a more diverse group of people who may not have given it a second thought before.

Marketing is always changing. Marketers are always jumping on the popular tools, strategies, and the latest ideas to make the most of their campaign and their budgets. While Barbie did have a significant marketing budget, the ‘equation’ they used to turn a children’s toy into a successful experience is unwatched.

'Barbie' Marketing
Screenshot: Warner Bros. Pictures on YouTube

What The Barbie Movie Taught Us

Emotional Marketing – Playing on emotions is a traditional strategy, but it should not be underestimated. We are emotional beings and playing into that can prove to be very beneficial.

Audience Segmentation – The campaign showed the importance of having a strong grasp on your target audience and what appeals to them. If you are targeting the wrong people, your efforts will not be nearly as successful.

Storytelling and Inclusivity – Both the movie and the strategy emphasized inclusivity and empowerment. The movie told the story in an authentic way that reflected real experiences that the audience could relate to. It shows how valuable it is to be authentic and relatable to your audience.

Influencers and Partnerships – While working with influencers may not be ideal for some industries, we can see how powerful brand visibility and social proof are. With small businesses and industries that don’t typically work with influencers, sharing positive customer reviews and increasing brand visibility can make a big difference.

Collecting Data and Analyzing – The Barbie campaign started well before the movie premiere. During that time, it’s likely that lots of data and analyzing results played into its success. Tracking performance is essential for all brand marketing to help you make data-driven improvements that optimize your campaign.

Building a Well-Rounded Strategy – Mattel put together a comprehensive campaign. They used nearly every outlet to push the brand and build awareness in both bold and subtle ways. What we can take from this is the importance of using all of your outlets to build your brand and reach your audience.

Final Thoughts

For many small businesses, building a comprehensive marketing solution includes strong branding, a custom website, SEO, social media marketing, ads, and reputation management. We can see from the Barbie movie that using your resources strategically to build off of one another can take your business to the next level. Are you making the most of digital marketing resources to boost your brand? Let our team at Fusion One Marketing build you a comprehensive strategy for digital marketing domination. Contact us to learn more about our custom marketing solutions.