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Advertising is breaking out of the box! Here's how the film "Barbie" became a hit before it even screened.

Advertising is breaking out of the box! Here’s how the film “Barbie” became a hit before it even screened.


Advertising is breaking out of the box! Here’s how the film “Barbie” became a hit before it even screened.

Advertising is breaking out of the box! Here’s how the film “Barbie” became a hit before it even screened. This is the first case in the history of American cinema where more was spent on marketing than on the actual film production. You probably already know which movie we’re talking about. Premiering in June 2023, “Barbie” is proof that well-executed advertising pays off quickly.

Come, paint my world pink. In its opening weekend alone, the film set a box office record. $155 million! That’s how much Barbie earned in just 2 days in the United States alone, covering the cost of the entire film’s production. This success wouldn’t have been as spectacular without the carefully prepared, multi-faceted marketing. At one point, the marketing seemed to fuel itself.

The Barbie boom came at a time when the world was experiencing many conflicts and moods were slightly depressive. Thus, entering the pink world of the iconic doll became a kind of salvation and a cure for the soul – as it turned out, for many people. It touched all the emotions of millennials, nostalgia returned, and they, in turn, passed their love for the iconic dolls onto their children. Ah, the return to the carefree days of childhood! The omnipresent pink was truly everywhere. But could the movie’s advertising have been limited to cinema ads or posters in toy stores? After all, that’s where Barbie fans are found. Not really. The producers made a movie with a message. To date, many films have been made in the series about the doll that can be anything she wants, but none had such a deep message, and none of them targeted adults as part of their audience. By the way, did you notice that the age rating for “Barbie” was set at 12+?

How is advertising done around the world?

In Dubai, with the Burj Khalifa in the background, a huge 3D advertisement was erected. The advertisement was in the shape of a Barbie doll box. It was also animated, and all residents and tourists could see Barbie stepping out of the box onto the streets of Dubai. In London, during the movie promotion, it was impossible to hail the famous red taxis. Only pink ones adorned with images of Barbie and Ken were operating. The same went for the iconic double-decker buses: they too changed their colors. And the phone booths. So, if someone went to London in the spring and hoped for a souvenir photo with the famous red booth… well, they were pink – and had the Barbie logo. Even the London Eye was lit up in pink only! Meanwhile, in Brisbane, Australia, all public transport stops were transformed. Pink benches appeared, a carpet with the Barbie logo was painted on the pavement in front of them, and the shelters themselves had not only branding of the movie but also a few frames with other characters from the film. It felt like looking through the windows of Barbie’s house.

How is advertising done around the world?

In Dubai, with the Burj Khalifa in the background, a huge 3D advertisement was erected. The advertisement was in the shape of a Barbie doll box. It was also animated, and all residents and tourists could see Barbie stepping out of the box onto the streets of Dubai. In London, during the movie promotion, it was impossible to hail the famous red taxis. Only pink ones adorned with images of Barbie and Ken were operating. The same went for the iconic double-decker buses: they too changed their colors. And the phone booths. So, if someone went to London in the spring and hoped for a souvenir photo with the famous red booth… well, they were pink – and had the Barbie logo. Even the London Eye was lit up in pink only! Meanwhile, in Brisbane, Australia, all public transport stops were transformed. Pink benches appeared, a carpet with the Barbie logo was painted on the pavement in front of them, and the shelters themselves had not only branding of the movie but also a few frames with other characters from the film. It felt like looking through the windows of Barbie’s house.

Living like Barbie speaking of houses.

Did you know that in Los Angeles there is a real Barbie house? Yes, it’s all pink, and in photos, it looks like a giant toy. Only it’s real (though the barbecue food was plastic), and the company Airbnb – its owner – agreed to lend it to one lucky couple for one night. A special registration was organized where you could win a stay at the Barbie villa. A true dream come true for millennial girls.

This is also one of the few movies that attracted companies from various industries wanting to feature in it. For example, Smeg, a company producing retro kitchen appliances, also recorded a sales increase. All thanks to placing a pink toaster in Barbie’s movie kitchen. A pink refrigerator was also a sales hit. Of course, there was also a special, pink version of the Xbox. So, we have a representative from the gaming industry. Now Barbie is modern and also plays on consoles… pink ones

Did you know that in Los Angeles there is a real Barbie house? Yes, it’s all pink, and in photos, it looks like a giant toy. Only it’s real (though the barbecue food was plastic), and the company Airbnb – its owner – agreed to lend it to one lucky couple for one night. A special registration was organized where you could win a stay at the Barbie villa. A true dream come true for millennial girls.

This is also one of the few movies that attracted companies from various industries wanting to feature in it. For example, Smeg, a company producing retro kitchen appliances, also recorded a sales increase. All thanks to placing a pink toaster in Barbie’s movie kitchen. A pink refrigerator was also a sales hit. Of course, there was also a special, pink version of the Xbox. So, we have a representative from the gaming industry. Now Barbie is modern and also plays on consoles… pink ones.

Being Like Barbie: Clothes and Cosmetics Not Just for Dolls Fashion brands couldn’t be left out.

After all, Barbie is a fashion icon. Thus, Zara, known for its elegant and sometimes even sterile store arrangements, made room for pink zones complete with a small photo booth – perfect for Instagram pictures. Mattel, the company producing the film and owning Barbie’s image rights, also collaborated with the brand Balmain. They crafted a pink hoodie retailing for a mere $1350. Crocs also had a part in the film.

Cosmetics? Of course, from Barbie. The cosmetics company Mac released a limited Barbie cosmetics collection. And they weren’t alone. Many fashion and cosmetic brands created their own collections named after the doll, further driving the film’s marketing, even though it wasn’t directly related. A common phenomenon became attending the film in pink outfits. Thus, movie theaters were filled with Barbies and a slightly smaller number of Kens.

A special website was created where anyone could put their picture on a Barbie poster. And boom! Millions of new profile pictures appeared on social media, suggesting that Kasia from 3C, who you used to meet in school corridors, is a star in the Barbie movie (and of course, you could find out from the picture when the premiere was).

Barbie King That’s not all. Barbie-mania also took over fast food! In Brazilian Burger King – in collaboration with Mattel – you could order a special Barbie set. It included a pink (how else?) burger, pink cocktail, fries, and a pink donut. In Poland, Biedronka suggested switching to Barbie-tarianism. Although Jeronimo Martins didn’t collaborate with Mattel, they couldn’t miss such a big opportunity for publicity. To gather over 10,000 likes under a post, all Żabka had to do was change its logo from green to pink. And they were in trend.

The “Barbie” movie wasn’t just about carefully chosen product placement and well-thought-out marketing. It was also about storytelling. It evoked nostalgia in 30-year-olds who can no longer feel carefree. It also changed Barbie’s image, who now fights for women’s rights and has something to say. Placing ads on the world’s most popular structures was a bold move. But changing the location of ads and going beyond standard media was also a good step. Going into the streets, entering industries where theoretically there was no place for Barbie (gaming and household products). The ubiquitous Barbie turned out to be a bullseye. The bar has been set high.

At BE Media agency, we passionately and dedicatedly shape strategies that reflect our innovative ideas, turned into reality through creative projects and carefully selected media. We warmly invite you to familiarize yourself with our portfolio, which showcases inspiring achievements in the field of outdoor and ambient advertising, revealing the broad spectrum of our capabilities

Dorota Szeliga-Kobus

Absolwentka filologii polskiej na Uniwersytecie Warszawskim, ze specjalizacją „filologia dla mediów”. Od prawie 10 lat działająca aktywnie w świecie copywritingu. Doświadczenie zdobywała współpracując z agencjami PR oraz marketingowymi w zakresie tworzenia tekstów SEO, tekstów specjalistycznych, wpisów blogowych oraz treści na social media. Dodatkowo instruktorka fitness i instruktora zajęć samoobrony dla dzieci. Miłośniczka mindfulness, aktywnego spędzania czasu, musicali i fotografii. W BE Media odpowiedzialna za kreowanie tekstów atrakcyjnych dla czytelników, tworzenie materiałów tekstowych na wewnętrzne potrzeby działu marketingu i reklamy, a także przygotowywanie newsletterów dla klientów agencji.