Marketing that capitalises on the magic and fantasy of the Barbie brand has helped the new movie break box office records.

Admit it! You’ve caught Barbie fever. How could you not?   

Since launching in 1959, Mattel’s iconic doll has become less of a toy and more of a pop culture icon. The new movie, directed by Greta Gerwig and starring Margot Robbie, is another milestone in Barbie’s rich history and has been positioned as the must-see film of the year.  

The hype surrounding the movie has indeed led to a collective case of mass Barbie-mania. 

In its first weekend on screen, Barbie racked up $19.6 million at the local box office and $527 million worldwide, making it one of the most successful openings in Australian history and the biggest debut ever for a female filmmaker.

With Barbie being women-centric by design and competing with a male-coded film like Oppenheimer, the marketing team had to pull out all the stops to captivate the audience’s attention. The creatively commercial way they’ve brought Barbie Land into the “real world” has captured people’s imaginations, social media feeds and wallets. 

Let’s look at how they did it.   

A movie for everyone

In the film’s trailer, audiences are promised that the movie is for them, whether they love Barbie or not.  

Undoubtedly, the nostalgic element of Barbie is strong for many. Countless girls have grown up playing with the dolls, and the movie provides them with a delightful opportunity to immerse themselves in the cherished Barbie fantasy and relive the excitement of their childhood once more.   

But Barbie fever extends beyond gender boundaries, with the movie garnering male attention due to the star power of Hollywood royalty like Robbie and Ryan Gosling.   

By casting lesbian icons and trans models such as Alexandra Shipp, Scott Evans and Hari Nef, the movie’s inclusivity also appeals to a broader audience.  

Digital takeovers

The Barbie marketing team’s clever partnerships with AI-powered tools have seen our social media feeds flooded with users sharing their customised Barbie movie posters and filtered selfies.  

If you’re an enthusiastic TikTok user, chances are you’ve encountered and possibly even tried the Barbie AI filter, which offers people a delightful and distinctively plastic appearance reminiscent of the beloved Barbie doll. Life in plastic, it’s fantastic!  

And let’s not forget about the Barbie Selfie Generator, an innovative AI-based photo app that allows you to upload your selfies and instantly transforms them into posters resembling Barbie movie characters.  

By leveraging our increasing interest in AI, the marketers have generated a wave of memes, TikTok hashtags, and captivating content, significantly boosting the movie’s visibility and appeal. 

Thinking pink

From limited-edition NYX pink-themed makeup to clothing lines by Forever 21, and Gap and Zara, pink shoes from Crocs, Aldo and Twoobs and even a limited-edition Barbie cheeseburger from Burger King, Barbie pink is everywhere.   

Cinema lobbies around the world are decorated with brightly-coloured cut outs and displays and Airbnb is offering fans the opportunity to stay in Barbie’s Malibu Dreamhouse.

The fervour for all things Barbie has led to a widespread embrace of the fluorescent pink colour in ways we’ve never before imagined.  

Finally, the melding of Barbie Land and the “real world” has also transcended the film via Robbie’s red carpet choices. At premiere appearances she has dressed as Barbie, wearing reproductions of the doll’s vintage looks.   

 While the marketing for the film has been innovative and unmatched, part of the irresistible allure of the Barbie movie might just be because we’re petrified of missing out on the fabulous chit-chats of this mad cultural moment. 

Don’t resist it. Get ready to dive into a world of pink dreams, fashion wonders, and join the Barbie frenzy! 

Top image: LANDMARK MEDIA / Alamy Stock Photo

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