Barbie goes far beyond a simple toy. It has emerged as an unparalleled influencer who, ever since her creation in 1959, has left an enduring imprint on popular culture.

Adored across generations, Barbie holds a unique and cherished position in the minds and hearts of consumers worldwide. And Mattel is now compelled to seek fresh opportunities to secure Barbie’s continued triumph.

The latest Barbie movie offers a chance to reinvent the brand, showcasing its growth and embracing a forward-thinking future.

Before Warner Bros Barbie’s premiere on July 21, brands and advertising professionals for organisations like Bloomingdales and Gap have exploited Barbie’s iconic intellectual property (IP) as a marketing tool to generate awareness for both the movie and their respective products, harnessing the power of social media, viral marketing and strategic collabs.

Because of this, “Barbiecore” —the recent trend in pink plastic—is everywhere, from Burger King’s pink burger to Ruggable’s limited-edition rug.

There are pink billboards, and a life-sized Barbie dream house in Malibu is available for rent on Airbnb. Barbican tube station in London is renamed Barbiecan. There is even a Barbie-themed Xbox controller.

The marketing world has been oversaturated with the doll’s mention, which may or may not deliver the intended return on investment

With a budget rumoured to be around $150 million, it is a tad overwhelming to think of the number of marketing alliances. Still, marketers believe the numerous collaborative product launches and campaigns will result in a successful return on investment for the Mattel brand and its partners.

However, given the zealous marketing initiatives, some wonder how successfully this push will increase sales of the genuine Barbie doll and those of the movie and product partnerships. Others wonder whether Barbie is simply an outlier or the doll is becoming a new benchmark for how Hollywood intellectual property films develop their strategic alliances.

As soon as the news broke, nearly all digital platforms reported the Barbie news. It does feel massively saturated when one has embedded so much of Barbie into every imaginable product and part of daily lives.

Most marketers, advertising experts and industry analysts believe that knowing the size of a business giant like Mattel, customers will, in due course, grow accustomed to oversaturated Hollywood IP promotion.

This can be attributed to the fact that the brand Barbie holds a sense of safety and nostalgia for marketers. For instance, Airbnb is a classic illustration of a Barbie partner, offering a unique brand experience for the public.

On the contrary, brands such as Lipton are not even remotely connected with Barbie or its target audience. It is safe to say that not every brand must focus on what’s ‘in’ and what constitutes ‘their’ cultural space.

As brands have crafted narratives for both who love and loathe Barbie, one can expect consumers to watch the movie regardless.

According to the data intelligence platform Snack Content, Barbie mentions on TikTok increased by 191 per cent and 80pc on YouTube in 2022 alone. The videos using the hashtag #Barbie have been viewed more than nine billion times on TikTok.

Throughout the first half of 2023, TikTok, YouTube, and Instagram reels used the #Barbie hashtag 145pc more than they did in the entire year of 2022.

Apart from the traditional interest perpetuating in Barbie and the increase in its subsequent usage, social media has, of course, played the necessary role in pushing it further with a coherent digital strategy and the memes game that piqued the curiosity.

However, nowadays, the way people consume media is so haphazard and subtle that it is difficult to keep careful control and monitor the brand image and legacy, especially with influencer marketing wreaking havoc with the numbers, rendering it difficult, sometimes incalculable, for marketers to gauge impact and calculate the return on investment for the products.

This oversaturation of Barbie’s marketing campaign is bound to leave a lasting impact on the marketing industry. Despite the buzzword around Barbie, reaching the right audiences, creating optimum social media impressions, and collaborating with unique brands to reach the target audience is the end game of the business.

The writer is a content lead at an agency. Email:

Published in Dawn, The Business and Finance Weekly, July 31st, 2023

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