Recently, the Barbie movie directed by Greta Gerwig, has been captivating audiences not only for its social commentary, but also its colossal marketing campaign, which has led to a resplendent revival of the iconic brand.
With a rumoured marketing budget of $150 million, $5 million more than the movie itself, the movie has built hype across the world thanks to countless collaborations, with everything from Airbnb to burgers.
Head of Marketing at brand tracking platform Tracksuit, Mikayla Hopkins, says though Barbie is a legacy brand that has built its brand awareness across 64 years, this new marketing strategy has revived the brand “unlike anything we’ve ever seen before”.
This strategy has placed Barbie in the pop culture conversation, especially after years of the brand ranking low in terms of relevance and relatability across all the core markets against competitors such as Hot Wheels and Lego.
Currently the data skews towards the older generation who grew up with the brand, but following the movie, data is predicted to grow and balance out across all generations.
“What we’ll see is pretty significant growth over the next three to four months in terms of that brand affinity with Barbie,” says Mikayla.
She says the strategy is a “masterclass in marketing” and its success can be attributed to four key things:
Change in focus: Barbie has moved away from communicating the benefits of the toy to instead talking about its purpose as a brand through storytelling.
Partnerships: The brand has been able to find relevance and it has very little influence over.
Marketing 101: Looking at its old strategy, Barbie has doubled down on repetition, distinctiveness and consistency, which from a consumer perspective can be boring.
Opportunities: Through this strategy, Barbie widened its reach far past just the toy aisle, making it known for being more than just a doll.
“Barbie is going to be a brand that we can watch now in 2023 and beyond. I think it’s going to be something pivotal in all of our cultural conversations,” says Mikayla.
The brand is expected to see stronger affinity, stronger preference and a wider pool of awareness within the younger demographics following the marketing and movie.
To keep this hype train chugging along, Mikayla says Barbie needs to continue following this marketing strategy of going back to the basics which a lot of other brands can learn from.
This article was originally published in the September/October 2023 issue of NZ Marketing. Click here to subscribe.