How Mattel’s iconic marketing won Barbenheimer!

It’s official! The new Barbie film has broken box office records! Taking $300m during its opening weekend while Oppenheimer drew $165m, Barbie has achieved the second highest opening of all time, (behind Avengers: Endgame which took $357m in 2019). It’s safe to say that Barbenheimer has a clear winner!

But how did they do it? The Mattel marketing team have been smashing it recently, painting the world pink with their creative campaigns. Here’s my thoughts on the key strengths of the campaign:

1: They created a sense of urgency 

Barbie is already an established brand, but by focusing on the film’s launch date, their marketing generated momentum in the build up to the launch, creating peak levels of engagement by the start of July that saw the film through to a bright finish!

2: They used viral marketing to their advantage

They piggy-backed on locations, trends and events with fantastic creativity, resulting in memorable, funny and most importantly sharable content! Some of my favourites were the Tube station takeover at Barbican (Barbie Can!), Warner Brothers’ AI selfie generators, the Barbie Malibu Dreamhouse on Airbnb and Boohoo’s Barbie-core clothing collection. This also inspired many brands to share their own take on the Barbie trend, jumping on the Barbie fever bandwagon and effectively cascading the message through a second wave of viral activity!

3: They created hype by competing with Oppenheimer

The team took it to the next level by creating a playful sense of competition with Oppenheimer, also launching that weekend. This allowed them to reach an even broader audience, whilst asserting the inclusivity of Barbie. I particularly enjoyed the La La Land image which became a popular Barbenheimer meme and the ballot bins, encouraging a face-off between the films.

4: They leaned into Barbie’s legacy

There’s no question that Barbie is already a universally known and loved brand, but the team really leaned into its brand equity to market the film with power! Barbie’s pink colours and special font are very distinctive, so by using these consistently throughout their campaign, they levelled up an already strong brand awareness. They used this to their advantage to gain a greater share of voice with the right level of reach and frequency to make the messaging stick.

5: They created ongoing momentum

The film will come and go, but as with many campaigns, the marketing doesn’t stop there. Brands such as Marvel and Disney have already created the blueprint for marketing their films with an emphasis on merchandise and ongoing products. Barbie can expect even bigger merchandise revenues following the film’s launch based on the goodwill generated by the film. This also lays the foundation for extended product ranges, additional films, (or even a franchise) and a solid springboard for any future product launches.

What has been your favourite aspect of the Barbie campaign so far?

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