Four Key Takeaways From the Barbie Movie's Marketing Campaign Success

by Lacy McKee

Illustration by Abby Pallant

With a $150 million budget, over 100 brand collaborations, and a shattering box office gross of over $1 billion, it’s safe to say that this summer transformed into a Barbie world. The success of the Barbie movie can be attributed to many factors, but one of the biggest and most fascinating was its strategic marketing campaign. Barbie is a masterclass in marketing that raised the bar in developing and executing effective branding strategies. No matter the size of your business or client base, any communicator can learn from the success of Barbie. Here are four key lessons to take away from the Barbie movie marketing sensation to guide your next sublime campaign strategy.

1. Understand your Barbie world (Know your audience)

As a decades-spanning franchise, the Barbie movie has many potential audiences, from little girls just being introduced to the doll to those who remember when the first Barbie launched in 1959. Barbie was able to master its marketing campaign by understanding and segmenting these audiences to maximize reach and create effective storytelling that stuck. From Barbie-branded pride parade floats to freakishly pink ice cream sundaes, the Barbie marketing team reached the right people with the right partnerships, reuniting modern and nostalgic fans of the brand. 

2. Think Pink (Stay true to your brand)

The Barbie movie and its marketing campaign appealed to many people, but that doesn’t mean it changed its brand or messaging. By staying true to its bright pink color and messages of inclusivity and female empowerment, Barbie maintained its high brand loyalty and drew in even more crowds into Barbieland. The marketing campaign tried new and unexpected ideas and partnerships, but its consistency of identity and visual representation built trust and recognition among new and returning customers of the iconic brand. 

3. Live life in the dreamhouse (Immersion is key)

In Barbieland, everyone is Barbie. Outside of it, everyone was able to be too. The Barbie marketing team leveraged social media through Barbie selfie generators and in theaters with life-sized Barbie doll boxes moviegoers could pose in. These key branding opportunities allowed fans to immerse themselves in the Barbie experience, creating a treasure trove of user-generated content and maximizing the marketing campaign’s reach. By creating these immersive experiences, everyone can be Barbie, a key component of the movie’s message and the audience’s connection to the iconic brand.  

4. C’mon Barbie, let’s go party! (Have fun with creativity)

From burgers, Xboxes, and Airbnbs—and yes, even toothbrush and insurance brands—the Barbie marketing team explored unconventional avenues of partnership that defied expectations. By dreaming big and having fun with marketing, the Barbie movie was able to spark interest from publications and people alike. For a while, it truly felt like the Barbie movie was taking over the world, enhancing the immersive experience the film and marketing had carefully cultivated.

As someone who has seen and loved this movie, I can confidently say that Barbie is worth the hype. But the marketing team working behind the scenes in Barbieland deserves even more praise. The successful marketing campaign of the Barbie movie hinged on its ability and effectiveness in turning the movie into an experience, capturing the hearts of fans and recent Barbie converts of all ages and walks of life. 

Your next marketing campaign may not have the same budget or scale as Barbie. However, there are a lot of lessons we can learn from this summer marketing sensation, from prioritizing brand authenticity and visibility to subverting expectations and generating buzz through unique partnerships. 

Inspired by Barbie’s success? We are too. From creating graphics and generating social media copy to supporting web development and multimedia projects, our team of experts at the 1893 Brand Studio is ready to tell your brand’s story by designing effective marketing campaigns that fit your business needs.