The Barbie Movie – A Marketing Strategy As Iconic As It’s Main Character

by | Jul 21, 2023 | Uncategorized

The Barbie marketing team is not just making history, they’re rewriting the marketing playbook. Big-budget films always make headlines, but The BarbieMovie has shattered expectations with a jaw-dropping $100 million budget. This groundbreaking investment has set a new standard for marketing and catapulted Greta Gerwig, the talented director behind the film, into the elite club of female directors commanding a nine-figure production.

The Barbie Movie’s promotions have been going on for what feels like an eternity. They have pursued a completely multi-faceted approach through their strategy, meaning no one seems to be tiring from it… By extending the campaign’s duration, Barbie creators Mattel  have strategised building a deep emotional connection between Barbie and her global fan base across all ages.

Mattel’s marketing team has left no stone unturned in their efforts to create a buzz around this movie, executing  tactics beyond our willdest Barbieland dreams. Here’s some of 4Change’s personal favourites….

1)That Teaser. How can something be so perfect?

No notes. The opening shot for the Barbie teaser was everything! And it got the right people talking. Everyone had something to say. Celebrities like Chrissy Teigen had questions. 

While everybody has some idea of Barbie’s life, the teaser left a lot of room for surprises, except of course, letting us know that the characters are Barbie, Barbie, Barbie, more Barbies, and Ken, and that they live in a pink world. Classic.

2) Earned Media

When marketing is done right, people catch on, and you get free publicity that just keeps going. Earned media is credibility, and Barbie 

Since January, there have been nearly half a million articles written about Barbie – wildly though, only 1.4% of these articles are about the movie trailer itself, but covered PR promotions, materials, events and collaborations. 

Meme culture has been completely accelerating this buzz with over 6 million social media engagements across the past six months. Our personal favourites? The Barbie vs Oppenheimer (or Barbieheimer) jokes which now has its own dedicated wikipedia article

Please tell us you’ve found the  Barbie Selfie Generator? (You’ll thank us later).  

Everyone and their grandma started becoming their own Barbie.  From brands to celebrities to your favourite marketing team, the template itself completely epitomises the blend of nostalgia, inclusivity and pure joy that Barbie is representing for multiple generations. Through interactive, personalised media just like this, Barbie is giving people the power to jump into Barbie land, make a moment all about themselves and get engaged. Genius. 

3) Brand collaborations

Mattel is the ultimate collaborator, teaming up with an impressive lineup of brands. In the run up to the release, Barbie has secured more than 100 brand partnership deals. We’re talking Microsoft Xbox, Vans, Hotwheels, Pinkberry, NYX, Homesick and Crocs, the list goes on and on. Seriously, from toothbrushes to scented candles, suitcases to rollerblades, there’s a Barbie version of pretty much everything you can imagine. 

 Across towns and cities. Barbie is popping up literally everywhere. In London, Liverpool, New York, Chigago, Malibu, Bogota and countless others, we’ve seen restaurants, bars and stores appear out of nowhere. has partnered with stores like Hot Topic to bring you themed cafes in select cities. 

One of our personal favourite collaborations? The Airbnb opening of the Barbie dream house (!!)

4) That billboard

Despite all the branding across household products through collaborations, Details? Who needs details when you can have giant hot pink billboards with the release datefeatured Barbie’s signature font. We all know what it’s about. That’s all it takes—this film has become so universal that the simple colour and text combo is instantly recognisable. Iconic. It’s everything.

4) Okay, BUT “life in plastic” isn’t so fantastic after all…

Sorry, but we had to bring it back to earth. There’s no doubt that the Barbie movie’s marketing campaign has been incredibly successful when it comes to generating awareness and creating a buzz, but at what cost? Looking through the lens of consciousness and sustainability, there is definitely some criticism and question marks. 

Similarly to many other productions, this film has turned into a vehicle for consumerism, which of course carries a direct negative effect on the environment. When it comes to Barbie, it’s easy to get swayed by their big ideas and out-of-the-box thinking, but ultimately the concept behind it all seems quite wasteful. How long will the hype last? How many of the promotional collaboration products will be wasted? 

On the average year, 60 million Barbies are sold, a figure which this year is predicted to unprecedentedly surpass triggered by the movie and its surrounding marketing. Inevitably, each doll costs the climate – every 182 gram doll causes approximately 660 grams of carbon emissions, taking into account production, manufacture and transport. 

According the the UN, toys are the most plastic-intensive consumer goods in the world, with very few being recycled due to complex mixes of materials; and as kids become bored of them, they end up in landfill. Countering this however, in 2021 Mattel launched a recycling scheme, allowing old toys to be returned by buyers, and transformed into new ones. Not by any means a solution, but with the right education and promotion it’s undoubtedly a step in the right direction. 

Furthermore, Mattel do have a “Barbie Loves the Ocean” collection where dolls are 90% made out of recycled plastic waste collected from the ocean – Mattel state that their goal is to “achieve 100% recycled, recyclable or bio-based plastic materials across all its products and packaging by 2030”.

4)Sustainabilty commitments within the campaign 

With regards to the movie creation and promotion, although Warner Bros. has stated that they’re taking ‘sustainability seriously’, not many aspects of their marketing campaigns reflect this. Evidently, Barbie has an immeasurable influence on kids (and, evidently, adults) in society. Just imagine if Barbie ditched the plastic, shopped vintage and turned vegan? 

Mattel state “We are committed to protecting our precious planet by raising awareness about environmental challenges and inspiring kids to take positive action”. Demonstrating and encouraging Barbie fans to feel inspired and get involved in sustainable career baths, the Eco-Leadership Barbie Team includes a Renewable Energy Engineer, Conservation Scientist, Environmental Advocate, and Chief Sustainability Officer, but none (as far as we know) feature in the upcoming movie.

Despite this, at the Barbie premiere Nicola Caughlan, who stars as Diplomat Barbie, wore a dress made from Tencel, a sustainably-sourced wood-based fibre. Barbie’s stylist Aimee Croysdill noted that since the world of Barbie is “plastic fantastic,” she “felt that we had a responsibility to make sure we took measures to be sustainable in our approach to this look.”

In contrast however, Barbie’s collaborative collection with fast fashion retailer Primark, with items priced from £3 to £20, raises concerns about genuine commitments to sustainable fashion amongst both environmental and social impacts of the fashion industry’s rapid turnover of cheap clothing. As with any discussion of sustainability, nothing is simple, and much more could be done to excel in genuinely positive efforts towards encouraging a conscious world.

In spite of it all, we think we’ll be heading to the cinema this eve. Who’s doing the same?