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Barbie’s Marketing Makeover: Lessons for Finance Brands


7 months ago

7 months ago


The new Barbie movie marketing campaign has been hard to miss. It’s not only delighted Barbie’s enthusiasts, it’s captivated those skeptical a movie can be based on an iconic doll. While obviously vastly different subject matter, this blockbuster marketing strategy – which combines creativity, a deep understanding of the target demographic, and multi-platform promotion – can teach both B2B and B2C financial marketers vital lessons.

Barbie’s Success

Released in July 2023, the Barbie movie is all anyone can talk about. The film has smashed box office predictions, showcasing it’s not just meme-worthy but a fully-fledged hit, reaching $155 million opening weekend.

One of the reasons the new Barbie film’s marketing campaign has been such a success is its creative approach to repositioning the way we see Barbie. Rather than just utilising traditional print and media advertising, Barbie’s innovative marketing strategy gained vital earned media coverage around the world. Some of these marketing ideas included:

  • Utilising Airbnb listings where people could rent a Barbie house
  • Dual brand promotion with brands like Crocs and Zara
  • Making Google search results sparkle when Googling Barbie
  • Ensuring actors like Margot Robbie dressed like her Barbie character on press tours sparking nostalgia and media coverage

This out-of-the-box thinking has proved to be an effective method of marketing, capturing the attention of everyone, whether they are a fan of Barbie or not.

While blockbuster films have more leeway and an easier time of executing creative marketing strategies, it highlights a crucial aspect of marketing – audiences want to be entertained and engaged. Instead of relying on traditional advertising channels, the campaign has used a variety of innovative tactics alongside more traditional marketing approaches, such as product partnerships, social media campaigns, and experiential marketing.

What can financial marketers learn?

By taking inspiration from the Barbie campaign, your finance brand can inject creativity into its marketing efforts and in the process broaden the brand’s image or interactions with your targeted audience.

Understanding your target audience (and those who aren’t)

Another reason why the Barbie movie’s marketing campaign has been such a success is its deep understanding of its target audience. However, the Barbie marketing machine went one step further and utilised effective strategies to capture the attention of those who, until now, thought they had no interest in Barbie.

By tapping into nostalgia, resonating with the audience, and creating pop culture moments like Margot Robbie’s Barbie Premiere looks, this campaign appeals to Barbie fans, the disinterested, and the detractors alike. Additionally, while Barbie marketing was everywhere, it wasn’t the same repeated campaigns, graphics or ideas, meaning content was seen as original, interesting and engaging.

“ According to Forbes, the success of Barbie’s marketing campaign could help double box office predictions.”

What can financial marketers learn?

Finance brands can adopt a similar approach by identifying the different segments within their target market and tailoring their marketing messages to resonate with each group.

For example, for older Millennials Barbie tapped into their sense of nostalgia of early childhood, whereas for Barbie detractors the feminist lens of the billboard campaigns and slogan of ‘She’s everything. He’s just Ken’ helps to reintroduce the doll and remove the negative stigma surrounding it. Using these examples as inspiration, understanding the motivations, preferences, and pain points of your clients will enable you to create more compelling and relatable campaigns.

While content marketing should be tailored to those you want to attract, thinking outside the box and creating quality content can engage those who aren’t currently in this segment. Creating engaging content that’s original and taps into the zeitgeist can expand your audience and generate leads.

Breaking the Barbie mold

One of the first trailers for Barbie was a unique take on the 2001 A Space Odyssey, where viewers watched little girls in a desert rage and smash dolls against rocks. The scene was so far removed from what you would expect of a Barbie movie trailer it instantly captured the attention of fans and non-fans.

What can financial marketers learn?
Expect the unexpected is a major lesson of Barbie’s marketing strategy. By flipping the script and showcasing scenes and content you wouldn’t expect, it entices audiences to find out more. Consider how your finance brand can break free from the normally ‘rigid’ nature of financial content marketing in fun and creative ways, to set yourself apart from the competition and gain new and engaged audiences.

Multi-platform promotion at its finest

One of the key strengths of the Barbie marketing campaign is its multi-platform promotion. This approach has truly brought the Barbie world to life and ensured audiences were talking about it months before its release. This was achieved by not only utilising the well-trodden channel mix of social, print, television and traditional advertising but also incorporating real-life Barbie experiences such as the Airbnb house and through actors’ clothing choices during press and event coverage.

What can financial marketers learn?

Finance brands can learn from this approach by leveraging various channels to amplify their message and reach a wider audience. By repurposing and atomising content, you can ensure maximum exposure across different platforms. This strategy allows you to deliver a consistent brand message while tailoring the content format to suit the preferences and consumption habits of your target audience.

Mix traditional advertising, like print and billboards, with online content marketing in your campaigns to bring your brand front of mind. Ensure content remains different across platforms, engaging and suited to your audience to ensure engagement remains high.

Take risks

What a lot of viewers have come away thinking is how much the team got away with when it came to the Barbie brand. The storyline heavily makes fun of Mattel executives and plays on the idea of a team of men being in control of what’s commonly seen as a girl’s doll.

What can financial marketers learn?

It’s clear Mattel took a risk with the film and its marketing, however, it’s their ability to make fun of themselves that’s helped this movie succeed. By not taking themselves too seriously and having fun with the brand and marketing – in a calculated way – it’s allowed a whole new audience to form a connection with the product. In a global report by Oracle, it was found 91% of people prefer brands to be funny and 72% would choose a brand that uses humor over the competition.

Barbie’s Collaborations

Barbie’s movie marketing campaign has partnered with a variety of brands, such as Mattel, Xbox, Airbnb, and Nyx Cosmetics. These partnerships have helped to reach a wider audience and generate excitement for the film.

What can financial marketers learn?
Finance brands can follow suit by partnering with other brands that share their target audience. Utilising partnerships to extend brand voice and awareness can be an effective method of gaining a broader organic reach.

But what about B2B brands?

While the Barbie marketing campaign primarily targets B2C consumers, its underlying principles are equally relevant to B2B brands.

By adopting a customer-centric approach and creating engaging content that cuts through to your B2B clients, your finance brand can strengthen its relationships, increase brand loyalty, and generate more business opportunities.

Final thoughts

The Barbie film marketing campaign serves as an unexpected case study for finance brands, offering valuable insights into innovative marketing strategies that can be applied to both B2C and B2B contexts.

Just like Barbie’s evolution and adaptation, finance brands have the opportunity to break from the traditional marketing mold and play around with their marketing approach to potentially engage new audiences and drive results.

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