Business expert shares top tips SMEs can learn from the Barbie movie marketing campaign

Business expert shares top tips SMEs can learn from the Barbie movie marketing campaign
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The Barbie movie, it’s everywhere – from social media memes to the temporarily-renamed Barbie-can Centre.

Praised for its witty marketing and seemingly endless barrage of promotions leading up to the release date, Barbie has now grossed over $400 million worldwide after less than a week in cinemas. The movie’s extremely successful marketing campaign has seen the movie achieve the highest opening day sales of any movie this year.

While it’s undeniable that Barbie’s massive $100 million marketing budget played a part in the triumph of these campaigns, the real genius lies in the strategies utilized by Barbie’s marketing team; building meme generators and social media filters, pushing brand identity and nostalgia-marketing, and getting people involved in their interactive campaigns – strategies that are equally relevant to SMEs.

Marketing is a powerful tool that can boost brand awareness and attract new customers, and there is a lot that business leaders can learn from the overwhelming success of the Barbie movie’s marketing attempts.

Connor Campbell, a business expert at NerdWallet comments: “There is no doubt that the Barbie movie has seen some of the most effective marketing in recent years. Opening to staggeringly high box office numbers, the movie has been able to transfer its marketing virality into direct sales – something that is equally desirable for small businesses in the UK.

“The secrets to the movie’s success lay in the marketing team’s ability to create a ‘moment’ that masses of people want to be part of. By playing to their strengths of pushing the strong identity of Barbie as a brand – utilizing hot pink and iconic fonts, alongside appealing to nostalgia – the Barbie marketing team has generated significant buzz and anticipation ahead of the movie’s release.

“While SMEs are unlikely to have the budget potential that the Barbie team was given, these are all methods that can inspire the way in which small businesses market themselves and build brand awareness in the wider public – optimizing the power of social media virality to build interactive campaigns that people want to participate in.”

The Two Main Components of the Barbie Movie Marketing Strategy

The Two Main Components of the Barbie Movie Marketing Strategy

Distilled down to its simplest interpretation, the Barbie movie’s promotional campaign boils down to two broad categories, which Warner Bros. pulled off masterfully.

1) Social Media

The first notable aspect of Barbie’s marketing campaign is its systemic and homogenized use of social media.

The film’s official accounts have been active on platforms like Instagram, Facebook, TikTok, and X (the platform formerly known as Twitter), sharing behind-the-scenes content, trailers and other promotional materials:

The campaign also featured a number of influencers and celebrities, who helped generate excitement for the film by creating a cascading stream of inspired memes based on the likeness of the film’s earliest promotions.

The film even had its own selfie generator, which allows fans to create their own Barbie-inspired avatars. Personalities like Taylor Swift were superimposed into Barbie’s place, as well as characters from Everything Everywhere All At Once:

2) Collaboration

Another key element of the Barbie marketing campaign has been its focus on collaboration. The film has partnered with a variety of brands, including:


Airbnb was one of many brand integration strategies with the upcoming film: “While Barbie is away, Ken is listing his room in her iconic Malibu DreamHouse on Airbnb…. Ken is inviting two lucky guests to stay in the newly revamped Malibu DreamHouse in all its Kendom glory.”:

Forever 21

Debuting a line of apparel dedicated to the film, Forever 21 partnered with Mattel and Warner Bros. to deliver Barbie-styled clothing. The collection featured a range of clothes – like hot pink crop tops, rhinestone-encrusted water bottles, and marble rectangle sunglasses – that captured the essence of the character’s timeless glamour and modern-day relevance.

Burger King

Rolling out a Barbie-themed meal, Burger Kings in Brazil adjusted their menu to feature an exclusive meal à la Barbie, including a pink vanilla milkshake with a frosted pink donut as the “cherry” on top:

While there are plenty of other placements that the creators of Barbie arranged, the lesson here is clear. These collaborations have helped Barbie reach a wider audience and create buzz for the film through a variety of mediums.

Lessons We Can Learn from the Barbie Movie Marketing Strategy

The Barbie movie marketing strategy is a masterclass in how to market a film effectively. Here are a few key takeaways we can all learn from:

Create interactive social media content

One of the main reasons that the Barbie movie hit such high levels of viral popularity is through its strategic use of interactive social media content. This has taken the form of meme generators – such as the ‘This Barbie is a…’ generator that allows users to transform photos of themselves into Barbie-themed posters, and the Barbie-related filters on TikTok and Instagram.

By directly getting people involved and providing them with a ‘memento’, encourages them to want to take part. This can be in the form of creating a filter or sound that others can use to create their own pictures or videos, or could even be done by jumping on pre-existing trends and giving them a twist that relates to your business.

Social media is a great way for businesses to promote themselves to a wider audience, and creating interactive campaigns increases the chances of going viral – particularly on platforms such as TikTok which are known to have a very user-friendly algorithm.

Brand identity is key

The Barbie movie utilized a wide range of marketing strategies – from social media to offline collaborations with other brands across different industries. However, what tied all of these together was the consistency of Barbie’s brand identity.

Over the years, Barbie has become synonymous with its hot pink color palette and instantly recognizable font. These elements have been carried across each of the marketing tactics used, and mean that people can immediately recognize trending content as being Barbie-related.

In a similar way, businesses can ensure that they have a strong brand identity of their own. Whether this is through having an instantly recognizable logo or carrying across a core color palette in everything you do. Every marketing campaign – whether it’s large-scale billboards or simple Instagram posts – should carry across these elements of brand identity to make your business synonymous with these factors.

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Building up to a “main event” while maintaining an event

In Barbie’s case, the “main event” was always the release of the movie in cinemas. Everything the marketing team did up until this point was solely to generate buzz for the main attraction. In this way, businesses should optimize their marketing efforts in the lead-up to a new product or service launch, hinting that something big is coming, and focusing their attention on creating traction for the launch.

However, where the Barbie movie marketing team really excelled was in making the build-up just as much of an event as the movie release itself. The general public knew that the movie was being released on the 21st of July, but they were equally as invested and excited about what the movie’s marketing team was doing now – prior to the launch.

Businesses can use this same strategy to make their business more exciting to a wider audience. By putting out frequent social media posts, trending hashtags, and generating conversations in the build-up to the launch of a new venture, businesses can capitalize on this tactic to create two “main events” – one now, and one when the launch takes place.

Making nostalgia-marketing work for you

Making nostalgia-marketing work for you

Nostalgia is an extremely powerful emotion that can be used to appeal to potential consumers. By relating to them and relaying shared memories, businesses can create positive associations with their target demographic. For the Barbie movie, the brand itself is a nostalgic household name for multiple generations. However, this doesn’t mean that small businesses can’t still utilize nostalgia marketing for themselves.

The secret to successful nostalgia marketing is really understanding your audience. Identify a core demographic that you’re aiming to target, and make sure you fully understand their core cultural and historical background from their childhood or early adulthood.

If your small business has a lot of history itself, you may be able to incorporate elements from your brand history that overlap with this era. If not, there are still other ways to incorporate nostalgia into your marketing. This could take the form of creating a nostalgic hashtag to use for your social media posts or launching a limited-time deal that is relevant to an event that took place that month, week, or even day in history.

Last Thoughts on the Barbie Movie Marketing Strategy

There’s no doubt that the Barbie movie marketing strategy will go down in history as one of the greatest marketing campaigns ever to exist. From its unfaltering continuity and incredibly fun, appealing ways to draw the attention of its audience, it’s no wonder why the film performed as well as it did at the box office.

If you take to heart the approaches that the marketing team behind Barbie used, you’ll find success in your own marketing campaigns. Just remember that the main aspiration with repeating the success of a campaign as large as Barbie’s is consistency and far-reaching presence in as many placements as possible.

Kalpana Singh is an exceptionally skilled and talented web content writer, driven by an unwavering passion for crafting engaging and professional content that deeply resonates with readers. With a meticulous eye for detail and an unwavering commitment to excellence, Kalpana is dedicated to delivering high-quality content that is precisely tailored to meet and exceed the unique needs and goals of their esteemed clients. With Kalpana's expertise and unwavering dedication, clients can expect nothing short of exceptional, top-tier content that leaves a lasting impact.