August 2023

Pretty in Pink: What marketers can learn from Barbie-mania

From hot pink ice cream flavors to apparel collections to flashy Malibu Airbnbs, we’re now living in a Barbie world. As box offices still attempt to reach pre-pandemic levels and new projects face delays amidst Hollywood strikes, Mattel’s Barbie movie adaptation has become a lifeline for theaters – and its success was no accident. Mattel and Warner Bros’ communications and marketing teams were working overtime (literally) leading up to the film’s July 21 release. With over 100 brand collaborations and counting, Barbie’s marketing efforts reached nearly every corner of the globe… and paid off in dividends. Barbie earned over $155 million in opening weekend sales in the US alone (the biggest-ever debut for a female director!). Now, Barbie’s earnings have risen to nearly $775 million globally, making it one of the highest-grossing films of the year. 

We’ve compiled a few key takeaways that every communicator and marketer can learn from Barbie’s integrated strategy: 

1. Experiential marketing is worth the investment

While today’s marketers often focus on digital-first campaigns, Barbie has proven experiential marketing stunts can be just as powerful. From Barbie’s real-life Malibu dream house to a Barbie boat cruise on the Boston Harbor, these coast-to-coast IRL activations garnered enough consumer attention to achieve massive virality on social media and snowballed into a wave of earned media and word-of-mouth awareness. Barbie’s success on the streets proves that experiential campaigns can often yield greater bang for your buck and a more memorable consumer experience than paid promotions on social media.  

2. Form intentional brand partnerships

When it comes to brand partnerships, quality often goes much further than quantity. However, despite launching more than 100 brand collaborations in anticipation of the movie’s release, Barbie made each and every activation impactful and genuine. Stunts like a luggage line with Beis, a roller skate line from Impala, and encouraging dating advice from Barbie and Ken on Bumble felt authentic to her character and the brands themselves. Additionally, the fashion and beauty collaborations with brands like Gap, NYX, Aldo, Pacsun, OPI, and more played into Barbie’s jet-setting, fashion-forward personality. These partnerships also strategically targeted a variety of demographics, ensuring consumers were aware of Barbie regardless of age, interests, or geography.  

3. Creatively and selectively integrate influencers

Influencer marketing can be much more strategic than mass product placements or a one-time sponsored TikTok video. Barbie creatively integrated influential voices (both traditional celebrities and social media creators) into its campaign that proved far more successful than shipping out hundreds of boxes of dolls and merch. Margot Robbie, for example, filmed an Architectural Digest feature giving viewers a tour of the Barbie Dreamhouse, which has garnered over 14 million views on YouTube alone. Barbie additionally allowed select, high-profile social media creators and their friends to spend time in the Malibu Airbnb Dreamhouse, including TikTok star Dixie D’Amelio who posted several viral videos during her stay, presenting the experience as a genuinely fun hangout vs. blatant branded content. 


4. User-generated content goes a long way

As more than 60% of Gen Z prefers user-generated content to streaming content, finding innovative ways to spark UGC is becoming increasingly important to marketing strategies. Earlier this year, Barbie took social media by storm with its AI-powered selfie generator, which has been used over 13 million times since its April release. The filter caught the attention of several A-listers including Rihanna and Pedro Pascal, yielding free celebrity promotion for the film. Since release, Barbie has set the stage for another surge of UGC, with life-sized Barbie boxes placed at select movie theaters for a perfect pink photo opp. Both trends not only successfully appealed to younger consumers’ content habits, but generated notable coverage at no additional cost to the Barbie team. 

Last but not least, the product being promoted still needs to be high quality. Marketing and communications campaigns only go so far without a top-grade product, and we can confirm the Barbie film deserved all the hype. 


Apex Legends is one of the most popular battle royale game titles with a global community of over 200 million players. Its unique blend of character-based combat, fast-paced movement, and technical game mechanics have made it a massive hit among competitive gamers and served as the backbone for the Apex Legends Global Series (ALGS), the game’s esports ecosystem. 

Now in its third year, the ALGS returned to London’s Copper Box Arena on July 13-16 for its Year 3 Split 2 Playoffs, where 40 of the world’s best Apex Legends teams competed for their share of a USD $1 million prize pool and international glory. Alongside the ALGS team, we helped highlight fan stories from all over the world, including one Chinese fan who drove 20 days from Shanghai to London to cheer on Asia-Pacific teams. After four days of intense competition, North American squad DarkZero hoisted the trophy, earning their third international Apex Legends title and $300,000 in prize money. 

The Year 3 Split 2 Playoffs were the latest chapter in the ALGS’ success story, as Split 2’s regular season in March set a new record as the most-viewed ALGS regular season to date. The Split 2 Playoffs became the most-watched ALGS Playoffs competition in the series’ history, with over 10.5 million hours of total watch time and 572,000 peak viewers. Capitalizing on the event’s momentum, the ALGS announced details of its highly-anticipated Year 3 Championship. The event, taking place September 6-10 at Resorts World Arena in Birmingham, UK, will once again bring 40 teams from around the world together for a shot at a USD $2 million prize pool and the title of ALGS Champion.

Honorary JSA Shoutout: 

JSA's Cassie Lawrence is back from maternity leave with a story on her journey at CalMatters: California’s paid family leave laws overlook babies that need intensive care.

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