rp Reacts: Barbie Movie Marketing

Updated on
April 14, 2024

Our team's two cents on the marketing activations for the blockbuster of the summer.

It’s official: Barbie has taken over the summer. With the long list of viral marketing activations and off-the-wall brand collaborations, the Barbie movie is set to be the premiere of the season.

So, of course, our team is breaking down our favorite—and least favorite—marketing stunts and whether we’ll be seeing the movie (the consensus: absolutely 100% yes). 

I'm absolutely seeing Barbie!! My favorite collaboration I've seen so far was definitely the Architectural Digest video walking through the Dreamhouse set. It felt like such a natural fit and showed off details that the movie might not have time for but that definitely should be appreciated. I'm also still eyeing the Homesick Dreamhouse candle.

Least favorite has to be the Kitsch hair collection. It is a super cute collection, but I felt bamboozled by the marketing! It was shown as coming in a mini Barbie wardrobe in the ad I was served, but once I clicked I realized it wasn't actually packaged like that, which seems like a missed opportunity.

Abigail Timms, Graphic Designer

The Architectural Digest walkthrough video was pretty incredible. There are definitely details in the set design that the movie will not have time to show off and it was cool that all that hard work got some love. I have shown that video to several folks and done a lot of hype building on behalf of Mattel and Warner.

Also, I may have impulse bought some of the dragon glassware pieces.

Spencer Watson, Sr. Graphic Designer

I will 1000% be seeing the movie, perhaps in a themed getup (who's to say!)...haha. There are so many activations, collabs, etc. for this movie! The Mattel team is really putting in the work, and honestly I love it—a movie like this is allowed to (and should) have obnoxious promo.

I’m sure I haven't seen everything they're doing, but I do love how they have had a steady roll out of small and larger things ranging from just the Barbie selfie generator on socials all the way to hotel takeovers and immersive traveling experiences.

To the surprise of no one, I think the Malibu Dream House Airbnb has to take the number one spot. I've never seen anything like it, and the fact that they were able to do all of it without anyone catching on is amazing. Every detail down to the propping is perfectly thought out, and, even though we all know we won't get picked to stay in it, you know we all will still try.

Their team has nailed everything around bringing this campaign to life. It's fun, over the top, creative and completely true to the Barbie brand. They know they are the movie of the summer and they are milking every bit of that, and I'm here for it.

Riley Collins, Studio Director

One of my favorite brand stories is about Mattel, which sued Barbie collectors who costumed the dolls in ways the toymaker felt were inappropriate for the Barbie brand. Mattel operated under the assumption that they owned the Barbie brand.

The lawsuit unleashed a customer backlash that put an enormous dent in revenue at the time. The brand struggled to recover, even after Mattel upgraded Ken and introduced a new companion pet.

Moral of the story: You can create a brand, but you don't own it. The customer does. The biggest mistake we can make as marketers is deciding that we own and control our brand.

From the looks of it, this movie will lampoon the stereotypes and values the Barbie brand has relentlessly reinforced throughout its lifespan—while embracing the core ideology of the idyllic and unrealistic aesthetic for which Barbie is so well known.

Nate Fleming, Director of Strategy

The Beis pink luggage is hands down my favorite! A lot of brands like Gap, Homesick, Aldo, Impala Skate, and Funboy really fit into the true Barbie vibe. 

I think the Ruggable collection really missed, I couldn’t see any of those rugs being used on the set of the movie and maximalism is a huge home decor trend right now.  Kitsch was close with their ads of the accessories in the Barbie closet but didn’t actually sell the closet, which would have made it a gold star from me.

Courtney Chauvenne, Associate Director of Social Media

My girlfriends and I are planning a night out to watch the movie together, and, yes, it will include dressing up. I have loved Barbies my whole life, and the brand means so much to me. My mom still has several of the original Barbie, Skipper and Ken dolls. My grandmother used to collect the holiday Barbies. I could go on and on. 

Generally speaking, I’m so happy that the brand and movie are going all out. The quantity and quality of the marketing tactics are A+ in my book. I thought the progressive ad was especially clever and relevant. Only one thing concerns me—what if the movie sucks?

Samara Anderson, VP of Sales and Marketing

This is my favorite Barbie collab:

Just kidding, I saw that on Twitter and thought it was funny. I do really like the Hot Wheels collaboration for the nostalgia factor, and the solid pink billboards with just the premiere date are absolute gold.

Here are some products they could have made—created with Midjourney just for fun:

Matt Reed, Creative Technologist

A few cool things we've done

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