The iconic slogan was right, it is a Barbie world.
The highly anticipated film that will touch the youthful hearts of millions of women and men was officially released this past weekend. Fans took to social media to capture this special moment dressed in all shades of pink and sequins to attend the release in theaters. Although the iconic Barbie brand has been around for decades and popular among young consumers, this legendary l doll has had an everlasting impact that may not have been expected. In Barbie’s opening weekend, the film made history with a $155 million blockbuster weekend debut. According to axios.com, “The film’s success proves movies with a strong female lead can pull their weight at the box office, especially amid superhero fatigue.” Not only did Barbie post the biggest domestic opening ever for a non-superhero film or sequel, but it was also the biggest opening in history for a female director. “It shows how important it is to have people have different points of view sitting in the director’s chair,” said Paul Dergarabedian, senior media analyst at Comscore, referring to Barbie director Greta Gerwig. Gerwig previously directed indie films such as Lady Bird and Little Women.
Now, what did Barbie do so right that its success is only growing? The answer is simple, everything. After the initial announcement of Margot Robbie landing the leading role of Barbie and Ryan Gosling as leading co-star “Ken,” fans and audiences knew that Gerwig had something legendary brewing in the making. Additionally, Issa Rae makes an appearance in the film as “President Barbie.” The importance behind Rae casted as President Barbie is the inspiration drawn behind it, from current Vice President of the United States Kamala Harris. Another factor that makes the film so unique is the meaning behind it. It shows the highs, lows, and exploration of being a woman in this world and accepting all of who you are. Barbie’s marketing has always been centered around being a “Barbie girl in a Barbie world” and that’s exactly what Barbie’s marketing team accomplished in anticipation for the film. Barbie has been literally everywhere, even when you search the film and leading stars on Google the color displayed is pink. They didn’t hold back anything for the marketing budget and it definitely shows.
The marketing is even more prevalent in certain cities such as Chicago having a Barbie pop-up shop that has now extended its stay until October. According to bucketlisters.com, “California Dreaming! Malibu is making waves in Chicago this year with the Malibu Barbie Cafe … We invite everyone to kick back and have fun while enjoying this immersive dining experience! As soon as you step into our trendy cafe, you’ll be transported to 1970s Malibu California with a sea of poptimistic Barbie colors, laid-back beachy motifs, and lots of retro glam … The Malibu Barbie Cafe allows guests to experience the ultimate form of Barbie-inspired dining. The Malibu Barbie Cafe will be a casual restaurant emphasizing friendly fare, delicious desserts, and a variety of drinks. The pop-up will also come complete with exclusive merchandise and a variety of signature moments for fans to interact with.” Additionally, brands such as Crocs, State Farm, Progressive and more have put their own spin on marketing by using Barbie and pink merch sales. This has created intense nostalgia for fans who grew up playing with Barbie dolls and finding comfort in the brand for decades.
Barbie’s marketing impact has definitely set the standards for films to come. Honestly, I think they changed the game in the industry. The success of the Barbie movie has become the prime example of what to do.
By Kori Barnes, University of Southern California
Help us continue to lift youth voices in their schools and communities. Donate to True Star at: truestarmedia.org/donate.