By: Mallory Smith, Vice President of Consumer Brands & Kaitlyn Elpers, Senior Account Manager
Whether you were team Barbie or Oppenheimer over the Barbenheimer opening weekend, for PR industry geeks like us, there is no denying Barbie’s marketing campaign was nothing short of genius. The Google News Barbie effect that colored our screens with pink sparkles might have been our favorite, but close runners up were Nicki Minaj’s remix to Aqua’s Barbie Girl, the myriad of pop-up Barbie experiences, the Barbie Dreamhouse listed on Airbnb, and the viral Barbiecore fashion trend.
Even if you weren’t counting down the days until the dazzling blockbuster hit the big screen (guilty), it was hard to ignore the Barbie buzz. The anticipation was palpable, and marketing stunts worked: Barbie dominated the box office and marked the largest opening weekend of 2023.
Few brands have a whopping budget like Barbie’s. But as PR professionals, it’s our responsibility to identify takeaways from how Mattel crushed the marketing blitz in order to provide client recommendations that will help transport their audiences to a land like Barbie Land.
Keep a pulse on cultural trends and think outside the (Barbie) box of how it could correlate with your client’s brand.
Pop culture is pervasive. Even if your client is in a B2B industry, it might benefit from a pop culture campaign if you can ideate how it’s relevant to the industry. You’re already staying on top of your client’s industry news. Add a pop culture newsletter to your morning reading list so you don’t miss an opportunity for your client to leverage the hype.
Newsjacking is critical no matter the type of news, including hard news, industry news, global news, and even pop culture news. While Mattel has been hard at work for Barbie in the lead-up to the premiere, don’t shy away from breaking news trends where your client could hijack or add to the news with relevant storylines.
Once you’ve identified relevant cultural trends, consider a 360-marketing play.
Even if you aren’t a full-service agency that builds creative campaigns from scratch, you’re the PR expert who knows what media like to cover. Present these findings based on what news and trends you see infiltrating your own feed.
The Barbie movie attracted over 100 promotional partners, amplifying the news across various industries and markets. Consider the synergies between your client’s brand and prospective partners to identify if there’s a mutually beneficial cross-promotional tactic. If you can find common ground, a brand collaboration may allow your client to reach new audiences and consumers.
Tap into the social media craze. A large part of the Barbie movie’s consumer engagement came from easy-to-replicate social media trends and gifs. The iconic “This Barbie is…” blew up on social media, allowing everyday consumers to easily hop on the trend.
The cherry on top of a 360-marketing campaign is an activation or VIP experience creating a consumer call-to-action. Barbie’s pop-up experiences in major cities garnered local and national press, resulting in high-traffic attendance and in turn, an influx of pink social media posts.
Collaborate with your client’s marketing team to execute a successful campaign and align on expectations.
Find out what’s feasible, what’s within budget and how quickly it can be executed.
Set expectations with your client. If the reward is greater than the marketing budget, demonstrate the worth and potential ROI. If the activation is too costly for a worthwhile return, it’s our duty to tell them when it won’t work.
Key PR data like KPIs allow clients to see realistic metrics at a snapshot, whether pre-activation for goal-setting, or post-activation to analyze the success.
Lights, camera, action!
Once the PR agency and internal marketing teams have agreed on a PR stunt or campaign activation, it’s time to execute!
Pulling inspiration from Barbie, sometimes less isn’t more. Deploying multiple collaborations or campaign builds simultaneously – rather than a spread-out cadence – can sound daunting, but if strategically planned, the reward for multiple tactics can be great. It’s only warranted for something as worthwhile as a Barbie release though!
Agree on an activation date. Like embargo-style pitching, create an initial date for the news and campaign to go wide. A set date will result in a splash of coverage and widespread attention, making the news hard for consumers to miss. The momentum from this launch will trickle throughout the campaign’s duration, creating an ongoing conversation.
Come on Barbie, let’s go PR-ty!
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