Five things businesses can learn from Barbie’s marketing campaign

Impressed by the impact of the Barbie movie’s marketing campaign? Discover five things small businesses without a Hollywood-sized budget can learn from it.

From pink electric toothbrushes, to a real life Barbie Dreamhouse on AirBnb, when it comes to the Barbie movie marketing activations, we can’t deny that it has gotten even the most reluctant fan talking. But their strategy doesn’t need to be reserved for big brands, with big budgets.

Here are five things that both product and service-led small businesses (and start ups) can learn from Mattel’s marketing campaign, and just like Barbie, have their moment!

1) Create a strong brand identity

Barbie has a well-defined and iconic brand identity that has captivated generations of children and collectors alike. This brand identity goes beyond just a physical doll, or its logo, it encompasses a lifestyle, values, and aspirations that have resonated with its target market for decades.

A brand identity is the essence of what a business stands for, how it communicates with its audience, and the emotions it evokes.

For small businesses, understanding and establishing a clear brand identity is essential for success. It serves as the foundation upon which all marketing efforts are built. By defining their brand identity, small businesses can craft a compelling and cohesive narrative that speaks to the hearts and minds of their customers, both offline and online.

2) Don’t be scared to leave your comfort zone

Gamers aren’t the typical Barbie fan, but it didn’t stop Mattel partnering with Xbox on exclusive in-game content, and to highlight women in gaming. Businesses shouldn’t be afraid to step out of their comfort zone when it comes to business development, but it is crucial to do so strategically.

To embrace a broader, bolder vision, that maintains focus on goals and messaging, I advise setting ambitious but achievable goals, fostering a culture of innovation and experimentation to help generate new and fresh ideas and stay ahead of competitors. Embracing creativity enables businesses to reach new audiences, and encourage new interest in their product or services. 

3) Collaborations are key 

Throughout the Barbie campaign, we have seen several successful collaborations, including fashion, toy and drink brands. For small businesses, relevant and timely collaborations and partnerships offer immense opportunities, opening doors for growth, learning, increased visibility and shared resources.

These collaborative endeavours facilitate mutual learning, fortify brand perception, garner support and allow access to wider markets. Potential joint ventures may involve organising joint events, data-driven campaigns, and leveraging social media marketing strategies.

4) Evolve with the times

Barbie has adapted to changing cultural and societal norms, continuously reinventing itself to stay relevant. In order to survive, it is vital that businesses need to learn how to adapt and evolve, and embrace changes in consumer behaviour, as well as technology and social trends.

Conducting market research and actively engaging with their community is vital in understanding the needs of their customer base. Through implementing changes and introducing new and innovative products and services, businesses can effectively cater to these evolving needs.

5) Create strong narratives

For decades, Barbie has mesmerised people around the world through the power of creative storytelling. Stories have a profound impact, enabling businesses to create emotional connections with their customers.

A brand’s story humanises its identity, allowing customers to invest not just in the product or service, but in the essence of the business itself. Businesses should embrace the three Cs of storytelling: Clarity, Catchiness, and above all, Consistency, to make their brand narrative truly compelling.

Hayley Hayley Knight is a PR and marketing professional, with over 10 years of experience. She is the co- founder of Be Yellow, and former Deputy Head of PR at Pride in London. 

Her accolades include Elle UK’s 23 under 30 female entrepreneurs and Amor magazine 30 under 30, as well as being listed as number 6 in TechRound’s top 100 PR agencies.