As a marketer, female CEO, and founder of multiple brands, I’ve been fortunate to witness some remarkable marketing campaigns in my career. However, few have captivated me like the “Barbie” movie.
In just the first few weeks after its release, it dominated the global box office, surpassing all expectations and cementing its status as a cultural phenomenon. From the United States to Asia, audiences everywhere were enthralled by the captivating story and its unique marketing approach. With its astonishing gross revenue of more than $1 billion worldwide, this film has proven to be a true marketing unicorn, setting new industry standards.
Here are four major lessons that the billion-dollar “Barbie” phenomenon has taught us that we can apply immediately to our business, our next launches, and our new campaigns:
1️⃣ Master The Art Of Anticipation.
One of the most impressive feats of this campaign was its multi-channel strategy, which amplified its reach to unprecedented levels. Through a meticulously crafted teaser campaign, the movie garnered anticipation well in advance of its release. Months before hitting the big screens, social media platforms were abuzz with images and videos, creating a wave of excitement that swept across the internet. Women from all walks of life embraced the Barbie concept, portraying themselves as unique Barbies and celebrating their individuality. This organic engagement contributed to turning the movie into a cultural movement before anyone even knew the full plot.
2️⃣ Strategize Brilliant Brand Collaborations.
Moreover, the “Barbie” marketing team strategically forged over 100 brand partnerships and collaborations, drawing major household names and even the newest and smallest brands into its orbit. This brilliant move not only expanded the campaign’s impact but also facilitated cross-promotion, with various brands riding on the coattails of the movie’s success to promote their own products. From custom pink Crocs to a Prada clothing line and even a real-life Barbie dreamhouse available through Airbnb, the movie transcended the silver screen to become a true lifestyle experience for its fans.
3️⃣ Create Immersive Real-Life Experiences.
Beyond traditional advertising, the campaign ingeniously leveraged real-life experiences to entice audiences to the theaters. With Barbie-themed photo booths and merchandise, moviegoers were drawn into an immersive world, transforming their cinema experience into a memorable and shareable event. In a digital age where online saturation is a constant challenge, this brilliant integration of the real world into marketing gave the campaign a breath of fresh air, creating an emotional connection with the audience that extended well beyond the theater seats.
4️⃣ Embrace Bold Polarization.
One of the most daring aspects of the “Barbie” movie’s marketing was its willingness to polarize and take a stand. The film’s clear identification of its ideal audience—women—sparked debates and discussions, adding fuel to the marketing fire. By reversing societal norms in the movie’s plot, the film embraced a rarely showcased perspective, making it more than just another children’s movie. This bold approach resonated deeply with its target audience, encouraging word-of-mouth marketing and further solidifying its position as a powerful cultural force.
As a seasoned marketer, I am constantly on the lookout for campaigns that redefine the industry’s boundaries, and the “Barbie” movie’s marketing journey has truly left an indelible mark. Its massive gross revenue, global reach, and incredible statistics showcase the potential of a well-crafted marketing campaign. From anticipation-building teasers to strategic brand partnerships and real-life experiences that captivate audiences, this movie’s success demonstrates the undeniable importance and power of marketing in shaping cultural phenomena.
Building million-dollar businesses and campaigns requires million-dollar strategies. As we analyze the impact of the “Barbie” marketing playbook, it’s important to note that the marketing budget was $150 million—more than the movie’s actual budget.
I have a saying that I live by: “Nothing bad happens when women make more money.” This campaign goes to show not only that this is true, but also that nothing bad happens when women take the lead, either. In fact, the opposite is true. Incredible things can happen when women are given the space to bring their vision to life, and Greta Gerwig did an excellent job sharing hers with the world.