How Marketing for the Barbie Movie was a “Dream”

By: Olivia Gerling

The billion-dollar success of the Barbie movie was no joke. Not only was it a blockbuster, but it spawned a trend known as “Barbie Summer” that will likely be looked back on for years to come. Pink drinks, pink clothing, and Barbie-inspired events are just a few of the things we’ll remember. However, the success of this cultural phenomenon would not have happened without the savvy efforts of the marketing team working behind the scenes. 

Marketing is defined as “the activity or business of promoting and selling products or services, including market research and advertising.” But the Barbie team didn’t just sell the movie, they sold the entire Barbie aesthetic. Let’s take a look at how they turned one movie into a summer-long event. 

 Following the Trends 

One of the most important things you can do to market yourself or your brand is through the usage of social media and other technology. However, it’s not enough to just be on the apps; you need to be aware of what’s going on. The Barbie team listened to their audience and then gave them what they were looking for. Barbie became the trend. 

When you think of social media, what’s the first thing that comes to mind? For many of us, we think of things such as memes and gossip. Rather than taking the traditional route of posting movie pictures, the Barbie movie team posted a meme! The cast and crew were featured with a variety of taglines, such as “This Barbie is a Mermaid” or “This Barbie is a Doctor.” But what did Ken get? Well, he’s just Ken. The slogan for the movie later became “She’s everything. He’s just Ken.” 

By then, the meme had taken over our social media accounts. Not only was it a fun way for viewers to get in on the action, but by using the Barbie meme templates, social media advertisers were doing the advertising for them!  

Once again, the Barbie team hit it big when social media took over with hashtags. For most movie franchises, finding out that the summer’s other most highly anticipated movie coming out on the same day would be a bummer – Oppenheimer was pegged to be a historical thriller, the complete opposite of Barbie – but instead, Barbie soared. Social media users made light of the situation by referring to it as a #Barbenheimmer double feature, and the Barbie marketing team went along with it. 

#Barbenheimmer merch was created. Hashtags trended. Memes were made. Even fanart came to the party. The Barbie team knew that by listening to their audience and researching the latest trends, they could make a big splash at the box office. 

 Creative Branding 

Okay, not everyone has a million dollars to spend on an advertising budget – that’s fine, we get it. But that doesn’t mean you can’t get a little creative. One of Barbie’s biggest successes was the team’s collaboration efforts and creativity. When promoting your own brand or product, consider the type of audience you want to attract. 

Before the Barbie movie even came out, the team was already hard at work selling merch. Pink Kool-Aid, Halloween costumes, and even an Airbnb Barbie Malibu Dreamhouse! But the biggest success became the strategic way the team branded the color pink, itself; any time someone saw the color, Barbie was the first thing that popped into their mind. 

See that pink lemonade in the store? Oh, Barbie would love that! Hey, look at this cute, pink top. If I wore this, I’d feel like Barbie! Pink became a national phenomenon. And with it, so did Barbie. 

 Nostalgia and Cultural Impact 

Have you noticed a recent slew of TV commercials utilizing actors from The Office to play characters that are exactly like the ones from the show? A variety of major brands are using these characters. However, it’s not just The Office characters. We’ve seen the Cookie Monster baking cookies with an iPhone timer in the background, superheroes eating fast food, and the newest Trolls movie getting NSYNC back together. 

What do all of these have in common? Companies are using nostalgia to sell us their product. They do this because oftentimes, nostalgia is represented by positive emotions. The Barbie team knew this, so they capitalized on it by showing the world that this Barbie movie wasn’t just for little girls; it was for women of all ages. 

Lead actress Margot Robbie slayed in her press tour. The Barbie girl showed up to each of her events in outfits inspired by well-known Barbie outfits from past decades. Not only did it get social media buzzing, but everyone from little girls to grandmas could recognize at least one of her stylish outfits. 


Though every company has a different way to market themselves, it’s important to know what’s going on around you. Identify your audience and then do your research. Though we don’t all have the type of fame that comes with the iconic Barbie, herself, we do have social media and creativity on our side. Perhaps you will create your own version of “Barbie Summer.” 

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