The Barbie Brand Goes Big

In my modest opinion as a marketer, nobody does branding better than ‘Barbie’ from Mattel It takes toys and keeps them relevant over decades. Case in point: Barbie dolls. While Barbie has had some ups-and-downs over the years, she is still a powerful brand icon. And this summer she gets her own movie!

The iconic doll has been a staple in American kids’ lives since the 1950s and it shows no sign of slowing down anytime soon. Barbie is now 64 years old (but doesn’t look a day over 19) and she has finely honed her marketing skills over the years.

This summer’s Barbie movie has more than 100 Barbie merchandise collaborations including an Airbnb stay at the Malibu Dream House (hosted by Ken). Other merchandise includes:

  • Barbie-themed Xbox Series S
  • Barbie roller skates from Impala
  • Barbie ice cream at Cold Stone Creamery
  • Pink-colored clothing at Gap
  • Hot Wheels Barbie Corvette
  • Barbie sneakers from Superga
  • Barbie pool floats at Target and Amazon
  • And much more…

The movie is a strong play from Mattel to increase growth by making Barbie a trending, pop culture sensation. To expand the potential sales, Mattel has partnered with other companies for even more pink Barbie-0branded products. Some agreements pay Mattel a flat licensing fee; others may be giving Mattel a percentage of the sales.

Think pink!

 Group Activities and Discussion Questions:

  1. Poll students: Who has played with a Barbie doll in their youth – or now?
  2. Why did Mattel want a Barbie movie?
  3. Discuss the four primary marketing strategies: market penetration, market development, product development, and diversification.
  4. Which strategy is being used for this product? Why?
  5. Divide students into teams. Have each team select one of the four different strategies and explain why that strategy could be used to market Barbie.
  6. Show the movie clip: https://www.barbie-themovie.net/
  7. View the Malibu beach house rental: https://news.airbnb.com/barbies-malibu-dreamhouse-is-back-on-airbnb-but-this-time-kens-hosting/
  8. Show Mattel’s Barbie website: https://shop.mattel.com/pages/barbie
  9. Optional: Have students search for Barbie-branded merchandise and collaborators.

Source: Lieber, C. (29 June 2023). The summer of ‘Barbie’ has only just begun. Wall Street Journal; Vega, N. (29 June 2023). ‘Barbie’ roller skates, Hot Wheels and dog toys: Brands are going all in on merch for summer’s hottest movie. CNBC.

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