IN THE BUSINESS OF BARBIE
Sunday, October 29, 2023
Shiny blonde hair perfectly styled, paired with bright blue eyes, unreal proportions, and a killer wardrobe. Since its creation in 1959, the Barbie doll has been the definition of glam and glitz–idolized by young girls all over the world. The doll has had a huge impact on not only the toy industry, but the fashion, film, beauty, homeware industries as well. From Barbie themed clothes, makeup products, homegoods, to creating the top grossing movie of 2023, Barbie has rocked the world.
Marketing for the Barbie movie was unique and extensive. Real life Barbie and Ken, Margot Robbie and Ryan Gosling, jetted off for press tours around the world. Barbie wowed fans with her outfits, and Ken was well, just Ken. The roles were now reversed, instead of a doll modeling human clothes, Margot Robbie and stylist Andrew Makamal worked to take doll clothes and fit them to a human. Margot Robbie sported masterful recreations of some of Barbie’s most iconic looks including ‘Totally Hair Barbie’, ‘Solo in the Spotlight Barbie', ‘The Original Barbie’, ‘Day to Night Barbie’, and more. Each look was tailored to perfection, featured a variety of designer brands, and was so very pink.
Mattel took to collaborating with over 100 companies prior to its premier. All things Barbie from couture, to fast food, to a stay in the Malibu Dreamhouse. Past the partnerships and world tour, organic marketing was generated from the chatter surrounding “Barbenheimer”–Oppenheimer and Barbie having the same release date. The Barbie movie was an instant hit. –making $1.38 billion in 3 months–The $150 million marketing budget combined with the $145 million production budget proved to pay off. The movie had a huge collective box office turnout for its debut weekend: $165 million in North America and $337 million globally. Barbie toy sales in the U.S. increased 25% from the July - August period, in comparison to the same two month period in 2022. Barbie also was the number 1 property and dollar-growth brand within the dolls category at retail within that two-month period.
Barbie didn’t generate this much revenue and popularity just from the movie’s marketing. The Barbie doll’s contagious smile and allure has drawn children and adults alike to it since 1959. While the first Barbie doll’s were all blonde and blue eyed, Barbie has adapted to societal changes and evolved with the time–the doll has become more representative of people over time. Over 1 billion Barbies have been sold, with 250 different variations; representing people of all different shapes, sizes, and backgrounds, allowing children to identify more with the toys and media they see and play with. The Barbie movie furthered the importance of inclusivity with powerful messages about feminism and self-discovery, celebrating diversity, challenging stereotypes, and breaking social norms. What used to be a doll that promoted unrealistic beauty standards became a symbol for women. Barbie shows us that she can do anything and be anything you want her to be while staying true to her spirit.
The Barbie doll has been a girl’s best friend since the 1960s. She’s everything and more: charm, class, and glamor. With the release of the Barbie movie, she became more than just a pretty doll and has since been immortalized as a key part of pop culture, bringing in themes of feminism, self-discovery, and empowerment.