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Mattel in Marketing: What They’re Doing Right

Written by: Hannah Smolicz (VMA) and Marie Patel (Marketing Strategist)

The Barbie has been an incredible success, with the help of a massive marketing budget. The budget is estimated to be over $150 million, with the movie budget being $145 million. It was worth it, with the box ticket sales exceeding over $200 million. Barbie is officially the biggest opening weekend for a female director, and doubled Oppenheimer’s sales. The success of the movie is indisputable, which is partially due to an incredible director, Greta Gerwig, and a group of A-list actors. It is also partially due to Mattel’s marketing strategy, which has had everyone on their toes for the past year. It has created a sense of community with women of all generations, which is a rare feat in the film industry.

As a Virtual Marketing Assistant, it has been interesting to watch this movie become a great success. Their impressive marketing strategy has ignited the world of media, while marketers have been taking notes. Mattel has had a jam-packed marketing schedule, while keeping us guessing with a variety of strategies. Check out a few of my favorites below, from the perspective of a VMA.

  1. Airbnb x Malibu Dreamhouse: Mattel partnered with Airbnb to create and list a Malibu Barbie Dreamhouse, which was released shortly before the movie. The dreamy house, hosted by Ken, excited Barbie fanatics everywhere. Unsurprisingly, it quickly sold out. Of course, marketing techniques don’t always have to be majorly expensive with an Airbnb contract. The excitement of Barbie also sprouted a Tiktok trend of influencers creating fake Barbie Dream Houses using Artificial Intelligence, and creating those trends is quick and free!

  2. Endless Products: Barbie partnered with endless brands to promote the movie, while successfully helping other companies ride along on the hype. Gap created t-shirts, Hot Topic is selling cardigans, XBox released a pink game console, Forever 21 has an entire clothing line, Ruggable designed pink rugs, ect. The list is truly endless, and not all of the products directly connect to the film. Partner with who you can, and be sure to seep into the minds of your target market when developing new products.

  3. Custom Movie Poster: Using artificial intelligence, Barbie created a site to allow users to upload a photo with a customized tagline. The posters flooded Instagram, Twitter, and Tiktok, creating a viral trend. Social media is the top marketing channel for most generations, and although creating a viral trend/photo/video takes plentiful research, it is a low cost option.

From a marketing strategist’s POV (and someone who had lots of Barbies, especially the shoes!) I have been very excited about the Barbie Movie. Mattel has tapped into consumers’ enthusiasm for the Barbie toys by imploring new ways for both kids and adults to experience the brand. Although making the brand available across multiple segments is right out of the marketing playbook, Mattel has zigged to the zag by developing new entertainment content with the Barbie Movie. Beyond content, the movie keeps the Barbie brand at the center of our pop culture and helps fuel sales from apparel to Airbnb’s.

An article from CNBC perfectly dissects the importance of content in a marketing plan, where journalist Sarah Whittman explains how media fuels sales. Creating consistent, meaningful entertainment content cultivates an interest in a product, such as Barbie. That interest translates into the sales of dolls or other Mattel products. The Mattel CEO, Ynon Kreiz, has significantly improved their marketing strategy. Kreiz states that “This opportunity is not done to sell more toys…” and “When we launch a movie or make a TV show, the mandate is to make great content that people want to watch and build accretive verticals that are successful so we can attract the best talent, the best creatives and partners that want to make special experiences” (CNBC).

Content creates experiences, and experiences create genuine interest and wonder. Barbie successfully developed that interest in all generations, and perhaps reignited the lost interest of some. Kreiz also mentioned how Lego and Marvel previously followed this path, and it definitely works. Although it may be a lengthy road to merchandise sales, box ticket sales continuously prove that content is key. Mattel is following the lessons of other companies, and other businesses can too. Even small businesses can rejuvenate their brand, develop new content, and focus on the experience of the brand rather than the product itself.

About the Authors

We both met about four years ago, when Hannah was an intern at a Stamford marketing firm and Marie was their marketing strategist. Our professional relationship has evolved into a supportive friendship, as we watch both of our careers grow. Now, we co-write marketing articles that peak both of our interests, and can be dissected from both a strategic and execution lens. Learn more about us below.

Marie Patel, Marketing Strategist, Girl On The Ball Solutions, LLC

I help small business owners be on the ball with their marketing all the while they focus on their clients. From developing a marketing strategy to planning their tactics and/or content, to implementing the process, we make things happen!

Hannah Smolicz, Virtual Marketing Assistant

My goal is to allow business leaders to get back to what they love by becoming their indispensable marketing and administrative assistant. I tackle marketing tasks such as content creation, email marketing, social media, graphic design, web design and updates, resource organization, plus much more. Working with me is like having your very own marketing team!

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