How Greta Gerwig and Mattel used nostalgia, mystery, and social media to create a cultural phenomenon through Barbie
BARBIE SPOILERS AHEAD: Read at your own risk
How Barbie’s Marketing Team Took The World By Storm… Even With Flat Feet
Hi Barbie! Hi Barbie! Hi Ken!
You’ve probably noticed that everything surrounding the new Barbie movie transcends the film by thousands of miles. Pink popcorn in movie theaters, colorful Barbiecore collector’s cups, stars and sparkles when you Google any cast member, 3D screens in the center of major cities worldwide—the list goes on!
The marketing investment for Greta Gerwig’s Barbie was even bigger than the budget allocated for the movie itself, and the results were immediate and evident: in less than a week after its release, the initial investment had been recouped. A box office triumph!
The Barbie universe, both different and familiar to the one we used to know, showed us a fresh perspective on the doll, with a strong focus on feminism, a fierce social media campaign, and plenty of pink to remind us of who she is.
Discover the marketing actions that worked wonders in shaping the movie into what it is, reminding us that we can all be the Barbie we want to be, even if we have flat feet.
Kenough Said: How To Market A Movie With Style, Substance, And The Right Amount Of Fashion And Horses.
When the first trailer for Greta Gerwig’s Barbie movie dropped, it was clear that fashion would be a major part of the film. From Margot Robbie’s iconic pink attires to Ryan Gosling’s pastel button-ups, the movie is a visual feast for fans of all things pink.
It probably doesn’t take more than 5 minutes (or knowing too much about the iconic doll) to understand that fashion in this movie is a statement in itself. From the very first scene, where we see Margot Robbie transformed into the first-ever Barbie in history, it’s easy to grasp the feelings the director aimed to evoke through this stylish journey.
Aside from the nostalgia felt by those who have cherished different iconic Barbies throughout their lives (Hi, Skater Barbie!), there’s a fresh fascination among young people just stepping into this pink world. The movie sparks a range of emotions, appealing to all tastes.
One undeniable reality is that ever since the movie hit the scene, we’ve all felt a bit like Barbie, in our own ways. The phenomenon escaped the screen and made a stop in hundreds of beauty and fashion blogs worldwide, seeking to recreate the doll’s outfits for all budgets – whether you’re a Prada Barbie or a Forever 21 Barbie.
And what about Ken? Well, Ken is just Ken, but everything he wore in the movie was iconically Kenough that we can’t help but wonder what more he has in store for us now that they’re no longer Barbie and Ken, but just Ken. And his horses.
Fashion marketing moves mountains, and this movie proved it. If you thought all the fashionista potential was reserved for the camera, think again! Margot Robbie and Ryan Gosling delivered a masterclass on embodying Barbie and Ken in real life, covered in pink and blue luxury sponsored by none other than Vivienne Westwood and Gucci.
#BarbieGoals: Pink Is The New Black… Or Is It?
Talking about the “pinkification” of Barbie is almost redundant, an obvious truth: Barbie has always been pink, and we’d be lost if she ever strayed from it.
With the film’s mass popularity, even before its release, a sort of unspoken code emerged among fans worldwide (seriously, from the USA to China, passing through Argentina and South Africa) – if you’re planning to see Barbie in the cinema, you better dress in pink!
Women and men alike embraced this trend, sporting simple pink garments, donning elaborate outfits inspired by different dolls, and even pulling off newly acquired blonde wigs – some took the opportunity to show off Messi’s new Inter Miami CF jersey (we spotted you at the movies, and we thought it was a fantastic idea).
Though the movie precisely emphasizes that anyone can be whatever they want to be, breaking free from imposed stereotypes, we have to say it: if you’re not wearing pink to see Barbie, you’re not doing it right.
Ken’s Back And He’s Not Just A Doll: He’s A Marketing Machine
Someone has to say it: Ryan Gosling was born to be Ken, and everything he did in the movie – yes, we’re talking about singing, dancing, horse-riding, and even shedding a tear – proved that the casting team nailed it.
As we mentioned earlier, Ken was always part of the iconic duo “Barbie and Ken”, but never quite made sense for kids worldwide to have JUST a doll of him (let’s be honest, many girls never had a Ken. If Barbie was to have a boyfriend, it was gonna be that Max Steel doll that was laying at home).
The little glimpse we saw of this character in the previews before the movie’s release turned Ken into marketing gold, sparking countless discussions. Even as an occasional antagonist, we can confidently say that EVERYONE loves Ken and wishes him nothing but a peaceful existence, knowing that he is Kenough (okay, perhaps too many similar jokes?).
If you watched the movie ages ago and you’re still humming “I’m just Ken, anywhere else I’d be a ten” while contemplating for the 1000th time Mattel’s website, debating whether to splurge $60 on that tie-dye hoodie that says “I am Kenough”, then let us tell you: that’s marketing done right. And also, we say “do it”.
The Mojo Dojo Casa House Is Waiting For You
Still in the Kencore, did you know that the Barbie universe has entered the world of tourism?
Both Barbie’s Dreamhouse and Ken’s Mojo Dojo Casa House are available for rent on Airbnb. Now, we know staying in the meticulously curated dollhouse might seem more comfortable, but the redundant name he chose for his place makes us even more eager to invite you to check it out.
Fully equipped for tourists with rooms, kitchens, a giant private pool, plenty of horses, pink everything (and a fridge filled with beer), this accommodation perfectly encapsulates what it would be like to live in Barbie World.
If you find yourself in Malibu, California, and want to be part of the experience, don’t miss the chance to spend a few movie-worthy nights there. It’s a vacation straight out of a Barbie blockbuster!
A Dream Come True: Barbie Kept Us Guessing Until The Very End
It may seem like a basic marketing move, but it was incredibly successful. None of the trailers released before the movie’s premiere gave away more than the obvious (if you’re going to see a film called Barbie, you can pretty much guess what it’s about).
So often, pre-release trailers end up revealing the entire plot, leaving little surprise when we finally sit down in front of the big screen. Personally, we’ve been through a few (major) disappointments precisely because of this. However, Greta Gerwig’s approach to what she decided to show the audience has been exquisite.
If you were genuinely surprised by Barbie’s true dilemma in the movie and found yourself unexpectedly moved by the ending (everyone in my cinema weeped a litte), then they absolutely nailed it. We had no idea what to expect, and thank goodness for that. The element of surprise added an extra layer of enjoyment to the experience, making it all the more memorable.
Popstars Barbiecore Moment: The Importance Of Having Dua Lipa, Billie Eilish, Karol G, Sam Smith And Many More As A Part Of Barbie
The movie’s soundtrack is worthy of a party just like the ones Barbie hosts at her house (well, except for the Billie Eilish part. We’ll save that for Saturday nights when we stay home, crying, and eating everything in the fridge).
The multicultural incorporation of pop music stars in the film, thanks to Mark Ronson, the executive producer of the soundtrack, skyrocketed the sales of the Barbie universe, practically dominating all digital channels for several weeks.
Moreover, there’s music for every taste and mood: from Sam Smith, Haim, and Lizzo to Karol G, Nicki Minaj, and Billie Eilish. And of course, Dua Lipa, who graced us as the Barbie mermaid, making us all want to dye our hair blue (and have her face, too!).
Swifties of the world were expecting to hear Taylor’s “Hits Different” in the movie (she literally says “I used to switch up this Kens I’d just ghost”), but maybe editors thought Ken deserved a break.
Life In Plastic, It’s Fantastic: Barbie Dolls Are Making A Glamorous Comeback
Even though Mattel might not have been portrayed in the best light in the movie (but kudos to Will Ferrell for making us love him anyway), Greta Gerwig’s Barbie’s success skyrocketed sales of all the brand’s original products.
Taking it as an opportunity to give the legendary doll a fresh perspective, the Mattel website now offers several collector’s editions (featuring Margot Robbie’s face and outfits from the movie), houses similar to those in the film, and furniture to complete the set.
For years, Mattel has been reimagining the character, adopting a more inclusive approach with ethnically diverse dolls, dolls in wheelchairs, dolls with Down syndrome, dolls with various body types, and more.
This opportunity was precisely what they needed to boost their sales and introduce people to the new Barbie. And the marketing works in a delightful loop: people go to the cinema and buy dolls, and people buy dolls and go to the cinema. It’s a win-win for both Barbie enthusiasts and Mattel alike, as they continue to inspire young minds and embrace diversity in their ever-evolving Barbie universe.