You Think We Live in a Barbie World Now? Just Wait

At the outset of 2023, Mattel’s evp and global head of Barbie and dolls, Lisa McKnight, had one goal for the year: make sure Barbie is “everywhere.”

Six months in, the veteran toy marketer has achieved fluorescent pink ubiquity. Barbie, the movie, is everywhere, and it’s everything.

It’s Margot Robbie in luminous Versace on the cover of Vogue. It’s the meme-esque selfie generator where anyone can be Barbie (or Ken). It’s the life-size Airbnb Malibu Dreamhouse. It’s an OPI nail color. It’s Pinkberry’s latest frozen yogurt range. It’s one of the other 100+ brand partnerships Mattel has brokered. It’s director Greta Gerwig causing a shortage of Rosco pink paint because she used so much on set.

The movie is slated to earn between $70 million and $80 million in its opening weekend, per Variety. According to analytics firm Comscore, it’s tracking well ahead of Christopher Nolan’s atomic bomb drama Oppenheimer on social, earning 1,071% more interactions across Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and TikTok since January.

This movie will recontextualize the brand for the next decade.

Lisa McKnight, global head of Barbie and Dolls, Mattel

This is Barbie’s world, and we’re just living in it—and not just for this summer.

McKnight is one of the architects who helped build it, along with a 100-strong global marketing team. Beyond the buzz of Gerwig’s Barbie Land, the movie is a significant long-term investment in the Barbie brand, one that Mattel hopes will help both sell dolls to kids and bring older audiences back into the fold.

Mattel has doubled down on brand partnerships to promote the movie and evoke nostalgia among Gen Z-ers and millennials. Pictured: The Impala in-line skates featured in the movieWarner Bros.

“This movie will recontextualize the brand for the next decade,” McKnight told Adweek. “It’s going to encourage people who have been removed from Barbie to re-engage and think more broadly about the brand.”

Beyond the buzz

In the run-up to the movie launch, it’s hard to untangle where Warner Bros.’ reported $100 million budget ends and where Barbie’s share of Mattel’s $534.3 million annual marketing spend begins. Both have generated Barbie-mania through social media campaigns and experiential marketing, such as the now famous Airbnb Dreamhouse.

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