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BRAND CAMPAIGNS

Barbie movie’s marketing juggernaut is finally on the big screen

By our News Team | 2023

After huge global promotion and a dizzying array of brand extensions, the famous doll attracts huge cinema audiences on its debut weekend.

The biggest global marketing campaign of the year – perhaps the decade – reached its first stage of completion this past weekend when the long-awaited Barbie movie opened in cinemas around the world.

Mattel, the US-based toy company that manufactures the iconic Barbie doll, is hoping the full-length film featuring Hollywood stars such as Ryan Gosling and Helen Mirren will boost the brand in the same way that the 2014 release of The Lego Movie helped to enhance the famous plastic-brick toy brand (although subsequent Lego-based films proved less popular).

Brand Campaigns

Photo courtesy of Warner Brothers Pictures

If Barbie is a box office and marketing success, it could pave the way for more movies that will promote other Mattel toy brands – among them Hot Wheels and Fisher Price. 

It’s a case of ‘so far, so good’ for Barbie, which grossed US$155-million in US and Canadian cinemas alone on the opening weekend, according to distributors Warner Brothers. This gives it the highest-grossing debut of 2023 to date.

“The picture pokes fun at the history of the doll while addressing criticisms about her unrealistic figure and materialistic nature. It follows the character as she breaks out of the perfect world created by toymaker Mattel Inc. and into one with real people on whom the doll has had an impact,” explains news agency Bloomberg News.

Barbie has enjoyed big-budget advance marketing and publicity, as well as the benefit of many product and marketing tie-ups with other brands.

Fashion brands Gap and Forever 21, for example, have released official clothing lines with Barbie in mind. 

A pink luggage collection and Barbie shoes

Beis, one of the most popular travel and luggage brands of 2023, released a range of bright pink luggage (Barbie’s official hot pink is Pantone 219-C) ahead of the movie launch.

Aldo, a Canadian footwear company, unveiled Barbie platform shoes and promoted the range on TikTok, resulting in a sellout in 24 hours and an overall 48% increase in e-commerce traffic to its website.

In Brazil, the Burger King fast-food chain released a Barbie Burger featuring bright pink sauce. In various countries, there are also Barbie-branded rugs, candles, glassware, Xbox controllers and toothbrushes.

There is even a real-life Barbie DreamHouse, located in the exclusive area of Malibu near Los Angeles, that you can rent on Airbnb.

Sameer Hosany, Professor of Marketing at Royal Holloway University of London, notes that Mattel has successfully extended Barbie’s brand to capture new audiences, drive growth and expand into new types of products beyond dolls.

“This is a risky endeavour if the brand is stretched too far. But Barbie’s brand has been successfully extended into other profitable categories such as clothes, accessories, cosmetics and entertainment (music, movies and games),” he says. 

Perhaps surprisingly, given that the toy range is targeted at young children, Barbie the movie carries an age restriction rating of PG 13 (no under-13s) from the Motion Picture Association because of suggestive references and use of certain language.

This, observes the publication Business Insider, indicates that the movie is mainly trying to appeal to older audiences who have memories of growing up with Barbie.

The Barbie doll has had a varied history since being launched in the late 1950s. Its original appearance – white, blonde and impossibly thin – was criticised many times for its lack of diversity and unrealistic portrayal of the ideal body female type. 

In later years, the range was extended to include dolls of various races and body types, as well as people with disabilities and certain illnesses.

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    Dr Kin Kariisa

    Group CEO - Next Media

    Dr. Kin Kariisa is an extraordinary force at the helm of Next Media Services, a conglomerate encompassing NBS TV, Nile Post, Sanyuka TV, Next Radio, Salam TV, Next Communication, Next Productions, and an array of other influential enterprises. His dynamic role as Chief Executive Officer exemplifies his unwavering commitment to shaping media, business, and community landscapes.
    With an esteemed academic journey, Dr. Kariisa’s accolades include an Honorary PhD in exemplary community service from the United Graduate College inTexas, an MBA from United States International University in Nairobi, Kenya, a Master’s degree in Computer Engineering from Huazong University in China, and a Bachelor’s degree in Statistics from Makerere University.
    Dr. Kariisa pursued PhD research in Computer Security and Identity Management at Security of Systems Group, Radboud University in Nijmegen, Netherlands. As a dynamic educator, he has shared his expertise as a lecturer of e-Government and Information Security at both Makerere University and Radboud University.

    Dr Kin did his PhD research in Computer Security and Identity Management at Security of Systems Group, Radbond University in Nigmegen, Netherlands. He previously served as a lecturer of e-Government and Information Security at Makerere University in Kampala, Uganda and Radbond University in Netherlands.

    Dr Kin did his postgraduate courses in Strategic Business Management, Strategic Leadership Communication and Strategies for Leading Successful Change Initiatives at Harvard University, Boston USA.

    • Other current and previous roles played by Dr Kin Kariisa:
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    • Director of Eco Bank Uganda Limited, one of the largest banks in Africa
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