The new Barbie Movie will spur new franchise opportunities for Mattel. The genius pre-movie campaign is turning London into a pink paradise and could bring back customers, writes Kurt Stuhllemmer
The hotly anticipated Barbie movie, It’s a Barbie World, premiered in London last week, blazing a trail of pink glory across the city that both delighted and surprised fans. Stars from the movie, and other big name celebs, embraced Barbiemania on the pink carpet while London was doused in shades of magenta with billboards, phone boxes and cars across the city creating a plastic fantastic makeover.
While the Barbican tube station was rebranded “BarbieCan”, marketers missed a trick with “Ken-sington”. Though, perhaps the influx of fans suggesting other Barbie-related tube names was exactly what they were after.
The move from toys to entertainment will undoubtedly help Mattel re-engage with a younger audience and boost sales of Barbie and Ken dolls. But they still face widespread criticism that they are neither body positive nor diverse, and doll sales are unlikely to be the sole benefit of Mattel’s marketing artistry.
The movie will also be likely to spur a raft of new franchise opportunities as well as reconnect the 78-year-old brand with wistful kid-dults who want to embrace the nostalgia of their youth by purchasing retro toys. It’s a Barbie World is a very real 21st century update that taps into memories for anyone that owned and played with Barbie. It has also been lauded for giving the “Bimbo” stereotype a feminist rebrand with Margot Robbie.
This isn’t Mattel’s first foreay into modern-day Barbie-mania. First they had the animated Netflix series and now the new Barbie film. The South Californian toy empire is also launching a new series of premium dolls, die-cast vehicles, games, building sets and a hyper-stylish consumer products line.
When the future is uncertain and the present complex, the past can help brands connect on a more emotional and personal level. Tapping back into specific moments in time can evoke a multitude of consumer memories that become positive anchors for brands, supercharging the creation of familiarity, loyalty and trust.
Even better, since these nostalgic moments are encoded in our long-term memory, they are more likely to influence future behaviour, including purchase decisions. Mattel’s marketing is bringing in the next generation to a famous franchise while reigniting fans of old, many of whom will recall fondly the role Barbie products had in their lives.
Keeping products alive in the hearts and minds of consumers, while their available spend dwindles, is the absolute holy grail for any company.
Nike adopted a similar strategy to relaunch its iconic Air Jordan sneaker. The Air movie chronicled how Nike’s 1991 deal with Michael Jordan set the standard for America’s footwear obsession.
Oreo, the world’s most famous cookie brand, launched its “Stay Playful” campaign last year. AI technology behind the OREO logo on every cookie pack gave direct access to a digital experience including sharing online “mixtapes” with friends and the chance to win a replica cassette player.
Using wistful childhood memories to create fame and build excitement means that brands can use the past to create a brighter future. After all, we do tend to look back on the past with pink tinted goggles.