Film, TV + Theatre

7 Genius marketing stunts from ‘Barbie’ and why they work

It’s a Barbie world


By Marissa Chin

FEATURED IMAGES: Hogwash Studio | Beis
7 Genius marketing stunts from ‘Barbie’ and why they work

Since the first drop of its teaser trailer back in December 2022, Barbie has been inescapable. It’s rare for a movie to generate and sustain so much hype and excitement for as long as the film did until its worldwide premiere on 21 July—but when you look at how much went into Barbie‘s marketing strategy, it’s hard not to see why. 

Production studios are known to spend exorbitant amounts on marketing. For example, The Little Mermaid cost $140 million alone on its global marketing initiatives. Barbie may be a pop culture icon but that didn’t stop Mattel from its mission: turning our world into a full-fledged Barbie world. In the fast-paced, competitive and oversaturated Hollywood scene, the battle for your eyeballs is more cut-throat than ever. For Barbie, it has overwhelmingly won the war. The pink shade and glitters that have been ubiquitous for many in the lead-up to the premiere say it all. 

To date, Mattel has more than 100 brand collaborations and merchandising partnerships which tackle different industries from fashion and food to technology. It has also invested in experiential activations, AI, and user-generated content which only bolstered the film’s immense potential for virality. Of course, the Barbie IP is one of the most recognisable in the world, so Mattel needed to turn this cultural artefact into something tangible and fresh. 

What could’ve easily turned out tacky and cringe-worthy ended up becoming one of Hollywood’s most successful marketing campaigns in recent history. While it can seem totally organic (such as the viral Barbenheimer memes) on social media, there is a science behind the magic which has also perfectly created a manufactured mania around the film. 

With Barbie season still in full swing, we look at seven of Mattel’s marketing stunts and collaborations that were brilliant in making Barbie a bonafide pink summer hit.


Barbie Selfie Generator 


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A post shared by BARBIE (@barbiethemovie)

With the release of its new trailer and a slew of character posters in April 2023, came the first marketing stunt that went totally viral on social media. Using artificial intelligence, the Barbie Selfie Generator was a true stroke of genius because it combined all the necessary elements: interactivity, meme-worthy content and shareability. 

All people had to do was go on the interactive platform, upload or take a photo and have the AI generate a funny catchphrase. Further, the tagline can also be edited and users can choose to be either Barbie or Ken. Soon enough, everyone was posting their own film poster—and editing other people into it to some hilarious results. Moving forward, we’re sure we are going to see more selfie generators for film promotions.


Barbie Malibu DreamHouse on Airbnb

Image: Hogwash Studio

Listen—the Barbie Malibu DreamHouse is not a want, it’s a need for many of us. Using the power of nostalgia and an innate desire to stay in a decked-out doll house, Mattel collaborated with Airbnb to bring to life a dream thought impossible. When the sudden appearance of a hot-pink Barbie house in LA snagged the Internet’s attention, excitement reached a fever pitch when it was revealed that they could actually stay there. 

Image: Joyce Lee

Featuring a disco dancefloor, hot-pink infinity pool and a giant slide amongst other things, two lucky Barbie fans will get the chance to stay at the oceanfront mansion for one night. This huge marketing tactic made netizens all the more excited to see how Barbie’s mansion would look in the movie.


Barbie x Xbox

Barbie shops, Barbie surfs, Barbie bakes—and she also games. The beauty of the iconic doll is that she has so many hobbies and interests, which made it easier for Mattel to expand their marketing collaborations into more obscure territories. Namely, partnering with a popular gaming company that has long been male-dominated. The Xbox console is given the signature pink makeover and is housed in a mini replica of Barbie’s DreamHouse. Further, there are five Wireless Controllers decked in all their Barbie glory. Players will also get to drive Barbie and Ken’s cars from the movie in the game Forza Horizon 5. This was a great marketing strategy as it enticed female gamers and included a positive message of female empowerment in diverse careers.


Barbie x Bumble

Barbie and Ken are the dream couple, which is why this collaboration with Bumble makes pure marketing sense! Between 12 to 26 July, hopeful singles can get dating advice from Barbies and Kens of the movie to help them snag that perfect date. Known for her optimism and kindness, Barbie will cheer users on and encourage them to send Compliments on the app, a new feature where singletons can send a message to someone without matching with them first. If you don’t know what to say, simply swipe right and get some examples. These include “Your bio? *chefs kiss*” and “Your taste in movies? Sensational.”


Barbie Pink Luggage Collection 

Whether she’s cruising on the road or jet-setting around the globe, Barbie always does so in style. Now, you can travel in Barbie fashion by shopping the limited-edition Barbie and Beis collection! Founded by Shay Mitchell (who also stars in the film), this collaboration is a no-brainer. Featuring the iconic pink hue, the Barbie Pink Luggage line consists of several carry-ons, suitcases, cosmetic bags, and a passport and luggage tag set. Much like how Barbie packed her bags to traverse the real world, it’s time to start your own adventures with these striking magenta travel candies!


Barbie X Inside Scoop

Our local Barbie collaborations also deserve a shoutout! One thing Inside Scoop knows is that a way to any Malaysian’s heart is through their stomach. The local leading ice cream brand teamed up with Mattel to create some pink sweet treats to take you to Barbie Land. 

Called the Pink Dream High Tea Set, it features three mini ice cream cakes and two drinks that are perfect for two to four people. The high tea set is available in selected outlets located in Sunway Pyramid, Queensbay Mall and Setapak. Plus, there’s also a special Ice Cream Cake which comes in the signature Barbie monogram and topped with colourful macarons! 

Find out more information here.


Barbie X CocoDry


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A post shared by COCOdry (

According to the Barbie handbook, you can’t go to a blow-out party without getting a blow-dry. It’s time to get Barbie-ready for your disco night with planned choreography at Cocodry! As Malaysia’s first blow-dry bar, it was only natural for the brand to jump in on this collaboration because who else is going to make you look fabulous? Head over to a hair makeover with any of the three Barbie-inspired hairdos at the Platinum Park outlet for the whole of July. 

Book your appointment here.


For more Barbie-related reads, head here.

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