#29: This Barbie is a Marketing Genius
How an outdated brand built the marketing campaign of the year
It’s Barbie’s world, and we’re all just living in it.
In case you missed it, this summer’s hottest marketing campaign is coming from a brand absolutely no one expected: Barbie. And the surprise and delight doesn’t show signs of stopping anytime soon.
From the movie’s meme-worthy slogan — “She’s everything. He’s just Ken” — to the swoon-worthy brand collabs, the marketing team behind the new Barbie moving keeps on delivering.
In today’s edition we’ll dig into the Barbie movie’s viral marketing strategy and 4 techniques we can apply as PMMs to drive irresistible go-to-market.
Pretty in Pink
We all know Barbie, the iconic doll that almost every Millennial child grew up playing with. But to be honest, when I first heard they were making a movie about her, I was ambivalent at most. She was a thing of my past, not a character I resonated with as an adult.
But now? I’m literally running to the theatre to see the movie when it’s released.
Here are just a few highlights from this masterful campaign:
Airbnb’s Barbie DreamHouse
This Barbie is a homeowner!
Were you ever jealous of your friends who had a Barbie DreamHouse? Me too. That’s why I almost fell off my chair when I saw the Airbnb collab. They’ve re-created Barbie’s home and made it available to rent for free for two lucky guests - and it’s in Malibu, of course. Who do I have to pay at Airbnb to skip the line?!
What makes this collab great is that it’s so natural. I love that they partnered with Airbnb who already has leverage and brand recognition in the space instead of just running this activation themselves. Bonus points for the playful touch of decorating it “Ken’s way”.
Xbox Barbie Console
This Barbie is a gamer!
Barbie’s partnership with Xbox is all-encompassing, from in-game content in Forza Horizon 5 that features her classic pink Corvette to Barbie-themed controllers and decals. The showstopper? A custom designed Barbie console that is built into the Barbie Dreamhouse.
The partnership with Xbox works because it leans into a newer message for Barbie - that it’s OK, and celebrated, to have diverse interests. Of course a partnership with a fashion brand makes sense for Barbie. But this activation re-affirms that a partnership with a gaming company makes sense to
This Barbie is a skater!
Is there anything more iconic than Barbie’s rollerblades? Now you too can get the look of Barbie and Ken with the Impala inline skates and protective gear. Rollerblades have seen a renaissance the past few years, and this collab is a fun way to tap into that cultural trend. It's the perfect way to take a small toy we used to play with and turn it into a real item we can buy.
Barbie's Brand Book
What do all of these activations have in common? How did they turn me from an ambivalent observer to a super fan? By tapping into four key marketing techniques:
1️⃣ Embrace Nostalgia: Tap into the emotional connection your audience has with your brand. Leverage nostalgia to create an instant bond and generate excitement. Barbie’s collabs activated core memories from my past which made me feel instantly more connected to the movie.
2️⃣ Make Fantasy a Reality: Our childhood favorites are powerful because they feel larger than life. You’re not actually going to eat pizza with a Ninja Turtle or visit Barbie in her DreamHouse. But, what if you could? By making the impossible feel possible, Barbie has created magic.
3️⃣ Strategic Partnerships: Partner with influencers, creators and brands to extend your reach and create a buzz that's hard to ignore. Barbie’s partnerships work because they feel authentic. The collaborations are thoughtful, organic and whimsical. They are as much about the partner brand as they are about Barbie. It’s a win-win.
4️⃣ Be Un-Ignorable: Diversify your marketing channels and meet your audience where they are. A multichannel approach ensures maximum exposure and engagement while keeping you top of mind. Barbie has found a way to penetrate pretty much every part of life for their target audience - from rugs to rollerblades and high heels to high end goods.
Catch you in theatres July 21 where I’m sure I’ll be enjoying many Barbie-themed snacks.