Painting the Globe Pink: Marketing the Barbie Movie

10min Read 28th Jul 23 James Scullion

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In a world full of all-things pink, there exists a timeless icon who has lived in our homes for over six decades. If you’ve been keeping up recently, you’ll know exactly who we’re talking about – Barbie. 

At Rapid Agency, we have been fascinated by the marketing efforts from Mattel and Warner Bros in the run-up to the release of the new Barbie movie. However, before we take a deeper look into these efforts, we will dive into movie release marketing. 

What is movie release marketing?

The goal of every film and movie production is to reach an audience. Sometimes it’s an existing one with a prequel or sequel release, but sometimes it’s a brand new one. As a result, it is crucial for companies to turn potential viewers into an actual audience. Production companies need to fill seats in the cinema and purchase tickets. So, where do they start? 

The main problem with movie marketing – and where companies can fall down – is that they become obsessed with the physical making of their movie. It becomes their baby. As a result, the marketing of movies can be neglected. The box office then takes a bad hit. Looking back, we know this wasn’t the case with Barbie. 

Types of Movie Marketing 

There are a variety of types of marketing promotions, platforms and channels that can be used to promote an upcoming movie release. This includes: 

  • Trailers & Extended Clips 
  • Teaser Videos 
  • BTS Footage 
  • Talent & Crew Interviews 
  • Film Posters 
  • Press Releases 
  • Website 
  • Social Media Campaign 

So, with such a wide spectrum of platforms to choose from, it is difficult to get your promotion right. According to IMDB, there have been an average of 2,577 films produced each year around the globe since 1900. With so many movies coming to fruition, there is a lot of work to be done. However, we only hear of a fraction of these movies, and we purchase tickets to watch even less. An innovative, captivating marketing campaign is essential to drive footfall to cinemas. 

Our Favourite Movie Marketing Campaigns 

Some strong movie marketing campaigns in the past have carved the path for movies marketing. This allows new productions such as Barbie to explore new ideas and platforms. With these big-name productions having such a large budget behind them, seats need to be filled to make any kind of profit. 

Some notable movie marketing campaigns in the past have included: 

  • The Blair Witch Project 
  • The Dark Knight 
  • Toy Story 3 
  • Paranormal Activity 

Let’s talk about the Barbie Movie

Mumblings of the filming and production of the Barbie movie date back to 2009, when Mattel – the creator of Barbie – signed a deal with Universal Pictures. After numerous attempts to create the movie with Sex and the City’s Jenny Bicks, Amy Schumer and Anne Hathaway, people began to accept that the movie would never hit the big screen. 

After all, there had been a decade of failed developments. Then, along came Margot Robbie. 

With the entire industry questioning whether the film would ever come to fruition, Greta Gerwig entered the scene and saw the movie’s production through with a star-studded line-up including Margot Robbie, Ryan Gosling, Will Ferrell, Simu Liu and Michael Cera. Anticipation for the fim’s release continued to grow as more fan favourite actors were added the cast list.

There’s no doubt each of these cast members were paid a healthy sum of money, and along with the additional costs of building a set from scratch and producing a movie of this calibre – Mattel needed to make this movie profitable. 

Defining the Barbie Movie’s Audience

Ultimately, Mattel have come to accept that Barbie is no longer a brand made just for kids. In an interview discussing the movie, director Greta Gerwig discussed the idea that ‘anyone from 8 to 108’ could enjoy the movie – ‘everyone can find a pink, glittery, existential dance party in their heart’. 

Whether you are an adult, teenager, young girl still playing with her Barbies, a brother who had Barbies as passengers in his toy cars, we were told this movie was for everyone – even the haters of Barbie. When approached with discussion and deep thought, the Barbie movie was set to be well-crafted and endlessly clever. 

So where would you begin marketing a movie of this calibre? 

Building hype and anticipation for the Barbie Movie

At the beginning of the movie’s promotion, we were shown a teaser trailer to build some suspense and generate anticipation within the audience. This grew into a bigger campaign, with the launch of numerous teasers and trailers, behind-the-scenes clips, billboards, brand collabs and OOH. 

THAT Pink Billboard

pink billboard for the marketing of the new barbie movie

As a name brand, Barbie speaks for itself, but we’re all familiar with its iconic branding too – and this is where the colour pink comes in. Barbie released an outdoor campaign including a billboard which has been pinned as a genius marketing movie. 

No headline, no information – just the ‘Barbie Pink’ and Barbie font reading ‘July 21. It speaks volumes for the campaign that we had such little information, but knew exactly what they were talking about. 

The Airbnb Barbie Dreamhouse 

Located on a sunny beachfront in Malibu, Barbie launched a real-life dreamhouse on Airbnb this Summer. This took the marketing of the movie to the next level, providing a real life experience for potential viewers to dive in and discover Barbieland for themselves. 

Barbican’s Makeover

Barbie fever hit the London Underground with the transformation of Barbican Station. Many of London’s famous landmarks were ‘barbiefied’ this Summer, but this one got fans talking, with fans wondering whether the London station had changed its name for good. 

Movie Sneak Peeks

Sneak peek footage was teased out to the audience throughout the entirety of the Barbie marketing campaign. They released clips from the movie to give us a hint of what the storyline would be like, along with some behind-the-scenes footage of the movie set. 

In one example, Margot Robbie walked fans round the set of the Barbie movie, showing them how they took Barbieland to the next level. 

The Barbie Selfie Generator 

With marketing promotions both online and offline, Barbie were successful in getting viewers talking and having a bit of fun for themselves. With the Selfie Generator specifically, fans could choose Barbie or Ken, different coloured backgrounds and customise text to create a self-expressive sentence. 

Besides being user-friendly, the Selfie Generator captured audiences of all ages. With additional elements of personalisation, fans could have a bit of fun and get involved with the movie in an exciting way. 

In the run-up to the movie release, we all felt like we couldn’t go anywhere without seeing promotion for the Barbie movie. Whether it was a quick trip to the shops, a scroll through social media or a simple walk down the street, Barbie was everywhere. 

What we’re seeing isn’t mere promotion for a 2-hour movie, but the promotion of a 64-year old brand. There wasn’t a person out there who didn’t know the movie was coming out, or who hadn’t heard about Barbie. 

The Importance of Multi-Channel Experiences

Creating a multi-channel marketing experience is a strategy that uses a variety of platforms to generate more customer interactions and finds new ways to communicate with them. By combining multiple channels such as OOH, social media, video marketing and brand collaborations, there were so many benefits for the Barbie movie being omnipresent both online and offline. 

Improved Customer Trust 

By being targeted by similar messages across several platforms, executed in different ways, customers were able to develop more trust and become more loyal to the Barbie movie. 

Multi-channel marketing creates more brand touchpoints and opportunities to deliver valuable content to the audience – allowing them to engage as much as possible and build a relationship with the brand. 

Targeting Options 

With so many channels at your disposal, you can target specific audiences of a range of demographics and behaviorus. As we know, the Barbie movie had an extensive audience covering a range of ages, so a marketing strategy that offered as much targeting as possible was essential. 

Each customer will be receptive to their preferred channel, so some will be more engaged with billboards, whilst some will be more attracted to reels and video content online. The marketers of the Barbie movie found the perfect balance to ensure they were reaching the entire target audience in the run-up to the movie’s release. 

Increased Engagement 

With so many avenues to explore and different opportunities to promote the movie, marketing to multiple channels is much more beneficial than using one single channel. Furthermore, it is better to be both online AND offline, rather than choosing one area and sticking to it. 

With more engagements comes more opportunities to sell tickets and make sales. 

Collecting Customer Data

When it comes to marketing anything – service, product, experience – collecting data is the key to success. Gathering data about your audience’s demographics and purchasing behaviours can be expensive and time-consuming for brands. However, multi-channel marketing across a variety of platforms makes the process a little easier. 

With so many channels – each gathering unique data – the producers of Barbie were able to gain more information about their audience, allowing them to alter their strategy and get more specific with their targeting as the movie release got closer. 

Leveraging Brand Collaborations

Retail brands have been collaborating with Mattel for months in the run-up to the release of Barbie, including new product ranges. According to some records, over 100 brands have released products in collaboration with Barbie in the run-up the movie’s release. 

However, with such a prominent brand comes unique challenges. It has been reported that Mattel is precious and specific about how the Barbie brand is represented, so there have been unique challenges for brands who collaborate with them to ensure it is presented in the correct way. 

By leveraging brand collaborations, there are so many benefits. Both Barbie and their partner brands have reached new audiences that they might not have even dreamed of. Of course, some of these partnerships have appeared random, but some have been coined as genius marketing moves. These include: 

  • Aldo
  • Fossil 
  • Krispy Kreme
  • Kit-sch 
  • NYX Cosmetics 
  • Moon Toothpaste 
  • OPI Nail Polish 
  • Crocs 

These brand collaborations span across both adult and child demographics, showing that we can transport ourselves to Barbieland no matter how old we get. By leveraging these partnerships, Mattel reached a wider audience to make sure they were receiving the message about the upcoming movie through products used in their daily routine. 

As we all know, you couldn’t walk into a shop this summer without seeing a bright pink product, or something with a Barbie logo on the front. Again, this goes far beyond the movie’s promotion – it is the promotion and rejuvenation of a timeless brand. 

Nostalgia & Emotion

When it came to marketing the Barbie movie to older audiences, nostalgia was an essential emotion to capture. Barbie has been a staple in homes across the globe for decades, captivating audiences of all ages. 

Nostalgia is a powerful emotion which can be used to emotionally captivate an audience. With so many fond memories of the brand and their extensive range of products, people were drawn to Barbie their newer collaborations as a result of nostalgic feelings. Een customers who haven’t thought about Barbie in decades are reminded of fond memories from their childhood, and have made their way to the cinema to relive them. 

So, what we can learn from the marketing of the Barbie movie?

There are so many lessons to be taken from the marketing of the Barbie movie which can be widely used across marketing practices. 

1. Brands can reach far beyond their core product line 

When executed well, there are so many benefits for companies who push their boundaries and tap into new markets – or an old market who have now grown up. By exploring new product ranges, lines and extensions, brands can make waves in the market. 

2. Omnichannel marketing strategies are essential 

As we discussed, there are so many benefits to operating a multi-channel marketing strategy. There is no reason for brands to stay stagnant and get too comfortable in a society that is constantly on the go. 

If you can reach your audience whilst scrolling, watching videos or walking down the street – why wouldn’t you? Make sure you are providing multiple brand touchpoints to raise brand awareness and harness the power of all available platforms. 

3. Emotion is a powerful tool 

Emotion is crucial for brands with a history and those who can use nostalgia to harness the power of their audience. For example, how can you relate your brand to memories? Can you encourage your audience to connect your brand to the past? 

4. Adaptability is key 

If your brand is going to survive for a long period of time, adaptability is crucial. Your audience will be moving to new places, exploring new platforms and moving in the fast pace of life. Make sure you stay with them. 

Adapting to new marketing and platforms is tricky, and you might find that you have to adapt to new audiences as your product develops and lines grow.

5. Life in plastic is really fantastic

10mins 28th Jul 23 James Scullion