60 years of Barbie: what could your business learn from the world’s most famous doll?


Barbie is 60 years old. What’s her secret to a long and successful global career? We think Barbie’s marketing strategy has a big part to play. Here are some of her top tactics that every business could learn from.

Work with influencers

Barbie launched her first celebrity look-alike doll in 1967 with a plastic-fantastic version of Twiggy. Cue lots of press coverage showing the British model holding up her plastic model.

Since then there have been dolls in the form of well-known athletes, artists, scientists and others. The celebrities reinforce the image of a brand founded by and for successful, inspirational women.

Use PR opportunities to generate content and coverage

Barbie certainly knows how to steal the limelight. She has generated column inches for a range of PR activities:
• Andy Warhol painted her portrait in 1986
• She launched a fashion show on the catwalks of New York in 2009
• She made the front cover of Time magazine in 2016 with the launch of new body types.

Be strategic when it comes to social media

Instagram saw the launch of @barbiestyle in 2014. The photos feature ‘lifestyle’ shots of dolls and accessories. Each photo generates thousands of likes from among 1.9 million followers.

Barbie is smashing it on Instagram but it might not work for everyone. As we always tell our clients, you should be selective and strategic about which channels you use and how you use them. A social media account is a lot of work so you need to know that it’s worth it.

As the Barbie team posted on a recent picture: “Wanna know an Instagram secret? These photos take forever to set up!”

Create a community of advocates

Barbie fan club launched in 1961 with a newsletter, membership card and magazine subscription. Happy children fell in love with the dolls and spread the word to their friends. And thus the cult of Barbie spread across the playgrounds of the world.

Use special days as hooks for your key messages

We’re always encouraging our clients to generate content around relevant national and international days. This year Barbie has created a set of dolls for International Women’s Day (Friday 8 March).

This portrays them as a brand that is relevant and reinforces their key message of inspiring girls.

Wanna be a successful 60-year-old?

If you’d like some support to help grow your business or product, get in touch with our friendly team. We’d love to hear about your projects or products.


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Ros is an editor and copywriter with experience in both print and digital. Her experience includes tone of voice development; interpretation for cultural sites and venues; content marketing, design and strategy; and managing an award-winning content team at a major UK charity. Ros enjoys writing about topics and industries in ways that people can relate to. She has written copy to inspire people about blanket bogs, garden birds, orchestras and refugees, among other topics!


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