This summer, the Barbie movie is all anyone can talk about and has raked in over $1 billion dollars at the box office. The film’s success has made director Greta Gerwig the highest-grossing female director of all time and Barbie is Warner Bros.’ highest-grossing global release ever. For months, people have been talking about this movie and the anticipation to see it in theaters. The movie was released on July 21, 2023, but the buzz did not start or stop when it hit theaters.
How did the children’s doll from 1959 reemerge as a household name from the popularity of her very own blockbuster? Word spread fast about Gerwig and Warner Bros.’ newest film and the media has been blown away with all things Barbie.
It’s a Barbie World
Barbie is seen everywhere from billboards to social media, clothing brands, and customized Airbnbs. Despite the media taking the idea of Barbie and running with it on their own, the marketing team also had a $150 million budget to spend. This is a shocking $5 million more than it took to produce the actual movie itself. The result? Barbie took over the world.
Suddenly, Barbie branded collaborations with Gap, Fossil, Hot Topic, and Burger King (to name a few), launched across the globe to promote the film and Barbie couldn’t be avoided on any social media platform. Have you searched for Barbie on Google? Then you’ve seen your screen transform into a pink color scheme with pink stars that sparkle across the page. That’s powerful marketing. Barbie has been an established brand for 64 years so the brand font and colors are so well known that it can be recognized from the hot pink color alone, like this billboard that was released to promote the upcoming movie.
Despite having no additional copy or graphics, everyone knew what this billboard was for. Some would (and have) described Barbie’s marketing as “genius”, and this is just one example of the creativity behind a viral marketing campaign. Simple and original marketing tactics like this billboard also inspire viewers to talk about them, spreading more awareness.
Other memorable marketing campaigns include a Burger King burger with pink sauce, an ice cream cake from Cold Stone, a Progressive insurance commercial set in Barbieland, and a partnership with Crocs. Thanks to the creative genius of the Barbie marketing team, one thing is for sure, You will see Barbie wherever you go.
The Barbie Marketing Strategy
Warner Bros. has produced thousands of movies, so what makes the Barbie movie stand out from the rest? To kickstart the Barbie movie’s campaign, the marketing team released a short teaser of the film on YouTube in December 2022. This teaser showed snippets of scenes from the movie, but nothing about the plot line. The teaser, which has over 13 million views, ramped up excitement for the upcoming movie.
The movie’s posters were not released until the spring of 2023, however, people were already getting excited about the movie well before then. Throughout the spring, more clips from the movie were posted online, increasing anticipation. Despite Barbie being a children’s toy brand, the movie rating is PG-13, leaving viewers to question the appeal as an adult. But Barbie was made for everyone from young children who still play with the toys to grown adults who hold nostalgic memories of their favorite dolls.
Doll Barbie vs. Human Barbie Marketing
Warner Bros. and Greta Gerwig have been working on overdrive to drive awareness for the film since it was introduced at CinemaCon in 2022. Once the public heard about Barbie, many took it into their own hands to create anticipation for the film’s release. On Instagram, #Barbie has over a million tags and #barbiemovie has 16.9 million tags. This means that people and businesses are putting their own voices out to the world about the movie. TikTok has also helped spread awareness and excitement by using songs from the movie and different sounds of characters’ dialog in the film.
Before the release of the movie, a viral Barbie meme became popular on social media where people and businesses were replacing the main actress, Margot Robbie’s, face with their own headshot or brand image. It became an instant trend for movie-goers to dress up in pink, a classic Barbie fashion. It’s clear to anyone at any theater that the people in pink are here to see Barbie.
People then post their themed outfits on social media to show their followers that they have seen the movie while also promoting the movie, which encourages their followers to see Barbie. Warner Bros. and Gerwig might have started the Barbie hype, but Barbie lovers everywhere organically spread awareness and created the fear of missing out on seeing the film during opening week across the world.
Barbie’s Influence on Future Marketing Plans
Barbie grossed $162 million on its opening weekend, well over forecasted profits. This can be attributed to a creative marketing strategy and robust budget, resulting in viral memes and social media content. It’s without a doubt that other companies, marketing teams, movies, etc. will try to recreate the media frenzy that Barbie has experienced, but can this happen again?
Most of the excitement for the Barbie movie is rooted in Barbie nostalgia, combined with the right amount of creative freedom from marketing to turn this film into an event that everyone was excited to see. Others could try to recreate this phenomenon, and pop culture could see right through it. This could happen again, but we think it would have to happen organically. There’s nothing people hate more than a message shoved in their faces.
If you haven’t checked out the Barbie movie yet, see what all the buzz is about and watch it in a theater near you. Barbie has been around for generations, and the love for Barbie has been shared around the world for decades. This iconic brand continues to be relevant for all ages and genders today with the help of this new film.
If you need help keeping up with the fast-paced, ever-changing world of digital marketing, reach out to speak with one of our Fly Pages experts today!
Written by Evelyn Williamson and Macee Borrowman. Graphic by Kenzie Akins.