In case you missed it (ICYMI), Barbie click-clacked into theaters on July 21st, earning double its production budget and scoring the highest opening weekend for a female director in history. But this success didn’t happen overnight. The first musings of the film started in 2009, and while it’s undergone several iterations of the concept, script, director, and leading lady since, it’s hard to imagine the final product being any better than the pink, glittery, hilarious, and heartfelt version it is. Through its larger-than-life marketing campaign, the Barbie movie made promises. And it delivered.
Warning: spoilers ahead.
The Barbie team put together one of the most impressive marketing campaigns I’ve ever seen. With partnerships ranging from the perfect, plastic heel to chandelier earrings or pink purses in the Barbie x ALDO collection to a Hot Wheels Barbie convertible. There are partnerships you’d expect, like a new Pinkberry® flavor, makeup collaborations with NYX, or nails with OPI, and others you might not, like Ashley Graham hosting a four-part Barbie Dreamhouse Challenge on HGTV or Béis Travel partnering with the movie for a pink luggage collection. And some collaborations are straight out of Barbie dreams like the perfect pair of roller skates.
And that’s just the beginning—with partnerships from well-known retailers like Forever 21, Target, and Gap, Progressive commercials, pool float, lunch boxes, themed vacations, and of course, social media filters, it seems like you can’t go anywhere without Barbie.
He’s Just Ken.
While the collaborations are top-notch, so are the teasers. From the memorable tagline to the various trailers and cast posters, a few themes shine through:
1. There will be pink. And a lot of it. Which is exactly what I’d expect from Barbie Land.
2. It will be a 90’s nostalgia trip, full of bright colors, fabulous prints, and a good old fashioned dance party.
3. The movie may be based on a doll, but it will not be a “kid’s movie.” If the jokes in the trailer are any indication, the PG-13 rating is there for a reason.
4. The soundtrack will be full of bops. Dua Lipa. Lizzo. A “Barbie Girl” remix. Count me in.
5. The cast will be truly diverse in gender, appearance, and personality. The movie posters are intriguing with Barbie descriptions including President, Doctor, and a Nobel Peace Prize Winner. It seems like a celebration of individuality.
6. There will be laughs. This trailer in particular made me laugh out loud.
7. Women’s empowerment will shine through. If the tagline of “She’s Everything. He’s Just Ken.” Is any indication, it seems like Barbie will have girl-power on-lock.
8. There will be Ken-ergy. Whatever that means.
Spoiler Warning: it’s really happening this time.
Delivery is Key.
Heading into Barbie, my expectations were high. I didn’t know how it could possibly deliver on every single promise their marketing team made. But it did. For starters, the theater was full of women, men, and children in pink everything. From blazers to heels, dresses to power suits or Barbie sunglasses – everyone came ready for a good time. And the same energy that we came into the theater with, left with us. From giggles to taking pictures with the movie poster, immediately posting on social media, and sharing a wink at a joke between strangers, Barbie brought light and joy.
A few specifics: the cast was flawless – so perfectly molded in each of their roles. The nostalgia factor was high with discontinued Barbies and Kens, even Midge, Allan, and Skipper – the list goes on. There were jokes at creator Ruth Handler and Mattel’s expense, which surprised me, but they made it more fun. It was laugh-out-loud funny. Seriously. I was laughing so hard I cried every time the Barbie Dreamhouse was referred to as Ken’s Mojo Dojo Casa House and Ryan Gosling became “serious Ken,” in his fight for Barbie’s heart against Simu Liu’s other Ken.
Women’s empowerment was on full display, but more than that so was the strive for perfection and the hard-hitting realization that no one (not even a doll) is perfect. You don’t know what someone’s going through and having an existential crisis is ok – it happens. But it’s remembering that while you can have a bad day, you mean so much to other people and you have so much power inside of you. Even if it takes listening to America Ferrera’s badass monologue every single day to believe it. That’s singlehandedly the heart of the movie, and while it was as fun as it promised, it also was more beautiful than I could have imagined.
Whether you realize it or not, everything you put out on behalf of your brand has the potential to influence customers into engaging with you. It’s important to only promise what you know your team can deliver. Imagine if Barbie’s trailer was full of black-and-white imagery or if the team partnered with Red Bull. If that was the case, I would have gone into the movie expecting less sparkle and more adrenaline. The campaign would have completely missed the mark, patrons would be confused, and the craze of memes and TikTok trends would be a lot different. It’s important to know your brand, what you are (and are not) capable of, and then deliver on your promises. That keeps your customers happy, engaged, and coming back for more.
We know this is easier said than done, so if you need support or ideas with how to make your brand shine like a blockbuster film (or your favorite indie), contact our team of experts. We’d love to dig in and collaborate to get your marketing to the next level.