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Barbie Movie Marketing: How Mattel is reclaiming pink...

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Sneha Medda
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Readers, as you enter the world of imagination, here's a disclaimer. This article contains an overload of pink, you might either feel like purchasing more pink or have the urge to temporarily withdraw from the colour. Having said that, here's a look at the Barbie movie marketing strategy.

The six-decades-old Mattel’s Barbie is attempting a massive makeover through its latest movie, modernising the brand. And this can be touted as one of the biggest repositioning exercises of recent times. 

The toymaker was often slandered for its dolls setting unrealistic beauty standards and lack of diversity. Over the years, Barbie has been working on expanding its product range to include diverse dolls and improving representation on the marketing front, which has also resulted in improved revenue. Over the years, Barbie adapted to changing times with expanded career options, diversity in race, nationality, and body type. Reportedly, the brand hit $1.5 billion in revenue in 2020 and a chunk of it could be credited to their change in approach.

As per movie director Greta Gerwig, the movie will cut across generations and genders. She said at a media event that everyone can find a pink, glittery existential dance party in their heart.

Taking this shift in positioning a step further, Mattel is going all out to promote its upcoming movie Barbie starring Margot Robbie and Ryan Gosling. 

What started as a usual movie marketing strategy that involved unveiling the cast and characters, was later followed by large-scale collaborations, experiential marketing, and a lot more. 

Setting The Base

To get the ball rolling, Barbie released its character posters three months ago.

This single poster set off a moment marketing trend on social media and brands quickly joined in, generating traction for the movie. Various influencers also jumped on this trend. 

Later, a few sneak peeks from behind the scenes, including the rollerblading moment, was released to generate buzz. These rollerblades were later listed for consumers at USD 289. 

Also Read: Case Study: How Cadbury Dairy Milk leveraged multi-medium marketing to #CheerForAllSports, reaching 16 mn people

Brand Partnerships & Merch

In 2022, Mattel's Barbie brand generated gross sales amounting to about USD 1.49 bn. The hype around Barbie the brand has been around for the past 6 decades, and riding on this all-time high, the movie’s makers made sure to turn their marketing strategy into the Barbie World. 

According to reports, the movie makers have collaborated with more than 100 brands, furthering their audience base. 

Some iconic brands that painted themselves pink include Airbnb through a life-size mansion.

To kick start the movie’s premise and highlight Ken’s character played by Ryan Gosling, Airbnb brought back Barbie’s pink-drenched Malibu DreamHouse to the customers. Previously, the house was accessible back in 2019 to celebrate the doll’s 60th birthday. The mansion will be available for rent for two separate one-night stays on July 21 and 22. 

While the Malibu mansion traces Ken’s adventures, Barbie is a gamer as well. Microsoft and Xbox came together to launch a Dreamhouse-like gaming console that is customisable. 

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With collaborations across categories, the brand also attempted to expand its target audience, moving beyond kids. 

The Australian burger joint Grill’d partnered with the movie makers to launch their very own The Barbie Dreamburger.

The collaborations saw brands like ALDO, Forever 21, Dragon Glassware, UNO, Pinkberry and many more. 

Pink Is The New Black

One of the key phases of Barbie's marketing involved reclaiming the colour Bubblegum pink. While it has always been associated with the colour, the movie allowed the brand to make Bubblegum Pink synonymous with Barbie.

This motive can be seen in one of their billboards, which solely had the colour and the release date in Barbie's iconic font. 

According to Lauren Proud — vice president of global marketing, Rosco, said “They used as much paint as we had.”

Sarah Greenwood, the film’s production designer also told the press that the sets of the movie needed intense amounts of pink paint and mentioned “The world ran out of pink." 

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The cast and crew gave an exclusive behind-the-scenes sneak peek into the Barbie movie's set also called the Pink Dreamhouse, furthering the audience’s anticipation. 

Causing a global shortage of pink or not, this movie certainly brought back the ‘Barbiecore' aesthetic on social media, with the hashtag trending on TikTok, which has now garnered estimated views of 300 million and above.  

Barbie On A Global Tour

As the movie inched closer to its release date, the makers and stars announced a global tour, giving their fans a chance to interact with them face-to-face. Through a video shared on official social media accounts, the actors revealed their intention to embark on a tour across the world, including Canada, Mexico City, New York, Los Angeles, London, Berlin, and Seoul.

On these tours and other press stops, Margot wore some iconic Barbie outfits, encouraging nostalgia. This also got the fashion world talking. 

A Globally Star-studded Soundtrack 

To reach the global audience further and create a buzz around the world, the makers onboarded several international singers way ahead of the movie’s release. This musical lineup added to the movie’s marketing bling and used the singers’ fandom to their advantage.

The lineup of musicians consisted of singers from Colombia, UK, South Korea, and more. 

The War Of Blockbusters 

Lastly, an ongoing fan war that has been at the forefront of the movie’s release is the clash between Barbie and Oppenheimer. Fans have termed it the 'Barbenheimer' war, where both the movies, which are diametrically opposed in genre, are set to release on the same date. 

This set off a meme trend on the internet that saw fans debating which movie would do better on the charts and more. 

Fueling the fan’s excitement, the movie’s star also participated in the banter and was quoted saying “I signed on that side. I hope you find Cillian Murphy and he signs the other one,” to a fan. 

Additionally, Tom Cruise’s Mission: Impossible – Dead Reckoning Part One hit the theatres last month and he was spotted participating in the Barbenheimer trend as well.

Adding to this, the Barbie cast and the makers chimed in and took the healthy banter up a notch.

All this early buzz and anticipation boil down to one question. Over the years, Mattel's Barbie has faced flak for promoting negative body image and for its lack of diversity. Due to these long-standing controversies, in 2015 Barbie’s sales considerably dipped for the third consecutive year. Following this, the brand has time and again tried to regain their positioning in the market by launching more inclusive Barbies to their collection. 

The live-action movie is an extension of the original brand’s storyline and their grand marketing strategy has made the viewers anticipate the movie even more. Is the movie’s release yet another way for Mattle to reposition their brand? What do you think, let us know in the comments.

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