How Warner Bros. Turned Barbie Into a Cultural Phenomenon

Show notes

In today’s episode of Brand Runner, we’re exploring the innovative marketing strategy behind the latest Barbie movie, a true masterclass that’s been taking the industry by storm.

Discover how Barbie exceeded box office expectations, even surpassing the Dark Knight. We’ll unveil the strategic partnership between Mattel and Warner Bros., outlining the benefits it brought to both companies. The Barbie movie’s marketing campaign is no ordinary one. It kickstarted with cryptic teasers and posters, building excitement long before the first trailer release in June.

The trailer challenges traditional Barbie stereotypes and promotes female empowerment, further amplifying the buzz around the film. But it doesn’t end there; Barbie’s collaboration with various brands, from Xbox to Airbnb, has expanded its reach to diverse audiences.

Join us as we discuss how social amplifiers like Margot Robbie and Mattel’s social accounts helped make the Barbie brand more appealing to a wide audience. This episode uncovers the marketing magic behind the Barbie movie’s success, celebrating innovation, diversity, and a positive message of female empowerment.

Tune in to the Brand Runner Podcast for this exciting journey into marketing excellence. Don’t forget to leave a 5-star rating to support the show’s growth. Thanks for joining us on Brand Runner, where marketing meets innovation.

Reference links

Brand Runner Substack post in which this episode is based on:

CNN Barbie box office article —

Deadline Mattel + Warner Bros deal renewal article —!

Time — All the Barbie partnerships —

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This episode only represents Fabien’s own opinion and personal thoughts.\



Welcome to the Brand Runner Podcast where we discuss marketing trends and tech. Today, we take a look at the marketing strategy of the latest Barbie movie. So be ready for a very pretty in-pink episode. It has been generating a lot of buzz even before its release. This is due in large part to its innovative and unconventional marketing strategy. According to CNN, topping over 1.2 billion dollars, Barbie has surpassed


Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight at the box office. Netflix has analyzed show attributes that are most likely to create virality and conversation. Eric Palotta, former VP Brand at Netflix, says that Barbie is hitting all the top attributes, which are nostalgia, young viewers, visual iconography, think about squid games or strange things, topical social political issues, and talent with a social following appeal.


From a marketing strategy standpoint, it is a real masterclass. First, let’s take a look at the brand partnership between Mattel and Warner Bros. The Barbie movie plus Mattel, we can call it a dream team partnership. Mattel and Warner Bros. entered into a partnership in 2019 to produce the live action film based on the Barbie doll. The film was directed by Greta Goehrig,


and stars Margaret Robbie as Barbie and Ryan Gosling as Ken. The financial terms of the partnerships have not been disclosed. But it’s estimated that Mattel will receive a significant portion of the film’s box office revenue.


Mattel is also expected to benefit from the film’s merchandise sales. The partnership between Mattel and Warner Brothers is a significant development for both companies. For Mattel, it’s an opportunity to expand the Barbie brand into new markets and reach a new audience. For Warner Brothers, it is an opportunity to tap into the popularity of the Barbie doll in order to reach box office success. Let’s list some of the benefits of the partnership for Mattel and Warner Brothers.


For Mattel, it can be the opportunity to expand the Barbie brand into new markets and reach a new audience, the opportunity to generate revenue from the film’s box office and merchandise sales, and the opportunity to build brand awareness for the Barbie doll.


For Warner Brothers, it can be the opportunity to tap into the popularity of the Barbie doll and create a film that is expected to be a box office success. Also, it can be the opportunity to attract a family audience to the film and the opportunity to generate revenue from the film’s box office and merchandise sales as well. The Barbie movie is just one of the many projects that Mattel and Warner Brothers are working on together. The two companies have also partnered on a number of other projects including


a Hot Wheels movie and a Masters of the Universe movies. In fact, Mattel just renewed its licensing agreement with Warner Bros. Discovery Global Consumer Products, continuing as the studio’s toy licensee in the toy categories. This includes brands like DC Comics, DC Universe, Harry Potter, Ted Lasso and more. These partnerships are a sign of the growing trend of the toy companies and film studios working together to create content that appeals to children and families.


Let’s discuss Breadcrumb strategy and cryptic teasers and posters. The marketing campaign for the Barbie movie began long before the first trailer was released. In 2022 Warner Brothers Pictures began releasing a series of cryptic posters and social media posts. Teasing the movie with a series of cryptic posters and social media posts, these posts were designed to generate curiosity and speculation about the film’s plot and tone. In 2023, the marketing campaign kicked into high gear.


The first trailer for the movie was released in June and it quickly went viral. The trailer was praised for its subversion and traditional Barbie stereotypes and its positive portrayal of female empowerment.


In addition to the trailer, Wonder Bros has also released a series of promotional images, featurettes and interviews. These materials have further helped to build excitement for the movie and challenge people’s expectations about what a Barbie movie can be.


Now let’s talk about partnerships galore with other brands. The Barbie movie has also partnered with a number of other brands including Xbox, Balmain, Birkenstock and Airbnb. These partnerships have helped to promote the film to a wider audience and generate even more buzz. So let’s take a look. Most of the examples I’m mentioning in this episode, I will be putting the link in the show notes so make sure to check those out. With Microsoft Xbox.


Xbox has created a special Barbie themed console. Barbie also partnered with Airbnb to let you rent Ken’s dream house in Malibu. Boasting only one bedroom, you can live your life in Technicolor. The host is Ken himself and he even wrote the property description. Check it out. It’s worth the tour. Link in the show notes. NYC on Fulton Street, Malibu Barbie Cafe New York opened a Barbie themed cafe.


Obviously, this movie could not have happened without a partnership with Mattel in place. For the occasion, Mattel released a new product collection based on the movie. That’s so meta, right? Not only this collection promotes the movie, but it also boosts the sales of the brand. With Bumble, the dating app, Barbie and Ken become your dating coach. Users can get message suggestions from all the Barbies and Kens featured in the movie.


This is linked to Bumble’s recent survey claiming that members who send a compliment have an increased likelihood of matching. At Burger King, you can order a pink burger.


These are just a few of them. There are actually many more brand partnerships, so many that Time Magazine covered them all in an article that I linked in the show notes. It is interesting to note that these partnerships cover all types of products and industries, consumer, tech, real estate, hospitality, fashion, et cetera, making the target audience extremely wide. And it’s also hard to ignore this giant Barbie 3D render in front of Bor Califa that turned viral. Let’s talk about social amplifiers.


What do Mattel, Margot Robbie, Warner Bros, Burger King and Crocs have in common, aside from the bobby thing of course? Well, they all have great social accounts, with sometimes millions of followers. And with every partnerships, brand and talent, come great social accounts. It’s easy to see how for each partnership, organic posting can turn into a social amplifier, reaching new audiences and expanding the reach of the campaign.


Check out episode number 6 dedicated to how to build brand online. In addition to the marketing strategy mentioned above, the Barbie movie also benefited from a number of other factors such as the star power of Margot Robbie and the positive reviews that the movie has received from critics. These factors have all contributed to the movie’s high level of anticipation and excitement. The Barbie movie is a prime example of how a well-executed marketing strategy can help to create a successful film.


The movie’s marketing campaign has been innovative, inclusive and positive and it has helped to make the Barbie brand more relevant and appealing to a wider audience. The marketing strategy for the Barbie movie has been a success for several reasons. First, it’s been creative and unexpected. The teaser campaign was particularly effective in generating buzz and getting people talking about the movie. Second, the marketing campaign has been inclusive and diverse.


The cast of the movie is also diverse and the marketing materials have reflected this diversity. This has helped to make the movie more appealing to a wider audience. And third, the marketing campaign has been positive and uplifting. The movie is being marketed as a celebration of female empowerment and this message has resonated with audiences. The marketing strategy for the Barbie movie is a masterclass in brand awareness by creating a buzz around the movie.


challenging people’s expectations, Warner Bros has made the Barbie brand more relevant and appealing to a wider audience. This is the end of this episode. I hope you found this information valuable. Please give us a 5-star rating, it would help the show to get heard. Thanks for listening. This was Brand Runner.