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The Barbie Movie. A Marketing Mastermind?

Updated: Oct 5, 2023

Top marketing lessons to learn from Barbie’s box office success

By Sameen, Content Writer, Digital Qube

Barbie, hailed as one of the most popular toy figures, ignited a nostalgic frenzy recently with its eponymous movie release. Since its release, the movie has garnered an undefeated $1.3 billion global box-office response, and has been loved by everyone, but how did it reach this iconic status?

Thanks to some marketing masterminds, the Barbie movie caught everyone’s attention. Be they boomer, millennial or Gen-Z, take note, it’s a masterclass in digital marketing. So how did Barbie’s marketing team do it? Our experts have the answer! Here are the top three lessons to learn from Barbie’s box office success.

#1 Social media marketing done right!

There are 4.3 billion social-media users globally, so it’s no secret that a business’s biggest consumer base is online. Understanding this, Barbie’s marketing team smartly capitalised their social-media marketing efforts.

Outside the enchanted world of Barbie Land, how did Barbie conquer the social-media wars? Well, the answer is quite interesting – by dismissing the aggressive approach of only marketing movie ticket sales, Barbie’s team focused on something greater: making the “Barbie experience” available to everyone (and available, by the way, with just a click).

The heavy push of social media filters, was to be their secret. With Barbie avatars, the viral TikTok “Ordinary Barbie” trend and the movie’s soundtrack trending on multiple social media platforms, it was evident that these campaigns did not only encourage viewers to get interested in the movie, but actually to embody what it means to "Be Barbie".

In the words of Josh Goldstine, Warner Bros President of Global Marketing, they saw their campaigns as a “breadcrumb strategy”. By putting out the experiential titbits of the “Pink Queen”, the team was able to entice the audience, sparking interest, curiosity and a strong dose of FOMO.

Well, lo and behold, this technique worked wonders, sparking close to 7 million social media posts, connecting with an almost unimaginable number (9.5 billion) of people and gaining a strikingly high engagement rate of 89%.

What does this mean for your business?

Barbie’s ground-breaking social media campaigns are an excellent case study in proving the power of social media for promoting businesses. Long gone are the days when traditional marketing methods held the key to success – today, innovative social media is the real buzz.

#2 Lights, camera, action & AI

When it comes to modern marketing, even the iconic Barbie did not shy away from embracing AI to create an experience that goes far beyond the big screen. Although many express scepticism about AI’s potential risks, it is clear that combining its power with human ingenuity is of great benefit, and that’s exactly what Barbie’s marketing team did.

Barbie’s digital marketing journey consisted of using AI in a myriad ways, some of which include the following.

The Barbie Movie had a brilliant marketing strategy

Barbiefication Selfie Generator

For an added touch of engagement, this special AI tool gave fans the chance to make their own Barbie-style avatar from a photo of themselves.

Innovative marketing for Barbie took advantage of AI tools

Barbie Dreamhouse AR Experience

Using augmented reality, fans had the chance to take a virtual tour of Barbie's Dreamhouse – an innovative way for people to become “part” of the film and Barbie Land.

Barbie Magic Mirror

The introduction of an AI-powered mirror gave Barbie fans a unique opportunity to experiment with different make-up looks inspired by the movie. With its interactive features, it allowed them to explore their fashion sense in an exciting new way.

One thing is certain, AI has been one of the most influential assets in Barbie's digital marketing playbook.

What does this mean for your business?

Barbie's leap into the AI universe isn't just a cinematic marvel – it's a wake-up call for businesses to harness the potential of AI in their marketing strategies. By using AI-powered predictive analytics, chatbots, and algorithmic advertising to its advantage, your business can get ahead of the creativity curve by masterfully crafting digital experiences that use human ingenuity coupled with AI.

#3 Collaboration, collaboration and collaboration

Another mega step taken by Barbie’s marketing team was to extend its unique experience to multiple brands, creating synergy and cross-promotion that eventually expanded its outreach. As anticipated, this power move became a win-win for everyone involved.

Brands which jumped on the Barbie core bandwagon include Zara, Balmain, Lele Sadoughi, ALDO, NYX, Airbnb, Gap, Ruggable, Crocs, Xbox and many more. Each of these brands mirrored Barbie’s prominent themes by incorporating it into their own products, selling them online and in stores.

Influencers joined the Barbie Clan

In the digital realm, influencer marketing is the real currency and if done smartly, it works extremely well in positioning any brand/business on the top of the chain. When famous influencers became part of the Barbie clan and adopted its trends, they added a whole new dimension to the movie’s marketing efforts. These influencers in turn became brand advocates, reaching vast audiences eager to hear their voice, making Mattel’s iconic doll the talk of the town.

What does this mean for your business?

By embracing collaborative and influencer marketing, you can amplify your reach with campaigns that will live on in your audience's hearts.

Our team's top tips

When planning a collaborative marketing strategy, keep these things in mind:

  • Weave a narrative that resonates with your partners, allowing them to emotionally connect with your journey.

  • Authenticity is key – collaboration should feel like a natural extension. Carefully select and hand-pick collaborators who align with your brand values.

  • Dive into joint live sessions, co-hosted webinars, or exciting challenges that captivate both your audiences at the same time.

  • Both partners thrive when both parties benefit. Whether it's shared offers, or shared content, ensure that the partnership is a win-win.

All things considered, the Barbie movie showcases an abundance of digital marketing brilliance that goes way beyond pink and pretty. When crafting or planning your next marketing campaign, centre on the creative ideas that are the inspiration behind successful social media marketing, capitalise on AI, and get creative with collaborative marketing.

Stuck in a social media strategy snafu?

Let Digital Qube be your strategy saviour!


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