25th July 2023
Barbie’s release in cinemas last Friday is already on track to be the biggest box office hit of 2023, generating £293 million globally in its opening weekend. The world has been tickled pink with the Barbie buzz thanks to Mattel and Warner Bros’ innovative marketing strategies.
Mattel have been redefining who ‘Barbie’ is for decades. Since Ruth Handler’s revolutionary creation of the original Barbie doll in 1959, the global toy brand churned out multiple different versions of the doll over the last few decades, ranging from pregnant Barbie “Midge” to “plus size” Barbie.
While the different versions of the doll were perhaps attempting to improve the brand’s diversity and inclusion ethos, they have been criticized and discontinued time and time again for always managing to miss the mark.
The release of Greta Gerwig’s Barbie has given Mattel the opportunity to breathe new life into the brand, and perhaps attract a wider and more diverse audience.
In the run up to the movie release, Mattel have embarked on a plethora of brand and media collaborations, creating cross-promotional opportunities and turning Barbie into an inclusive and diverse brand that everyone can be a part of.
The collaborations range from partnerships with fashion brands such as Primark and Gap, to Barbie’s Malibu Dreamhouse being available to rent on Airbnb.
Mattel president and COO, Richard Dickson commented, "Our color [pink] is obviously synonymous with a big movement right now and there's not a category out there that we haven't carefully curated as an opportunity for everyone to play with Barbie."
There’s no doubt that the movie has taken the world by storm in its marketing approach, but the movie’s release at the weekend has started a wider conversation on gender politics and societal pressures due to its thought-provoking content.
Barbie asks its audience important systemic and societal questions as they watch the story unfold, and gives its characters Barbie and Ken a sense of humanity as they navigate their way through the ‘real world’.
The movie goes far deeper than its pink-centric marketing campaign, allowing its audience to tap into something more personal. Love it or hate it, each person that leaves the cinema will have a different perception of what Barbie means to them.
The conversation has been sparked, taking over the media from TikTok trends to talk show hosts. Perhaps ‘Barbie’ is becoming a catalyst for something more than just monetization.
By Zoe Faulkner