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Brand tips from Barbie: what could your business learn from the world’s most famous doll?

A Barbie doll with blue hair holds a telephone

Barbie has gone from child’s toy to Hollywood superstar. What’s the secret to her long global career? 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 counterpart.

Since then, there have been dolls in the form of well-known athletes, artists, scientists and others. Celebrities that have received the Barbie treatment include Prince William and Kate Middleton, Jennifer Lopez, J.K. Rowling and Ava DuVernay.

The celebrities reinforce the image of a brand founded by and for successful, inspirational girls and women.

Use PR opportunities to generate content and coverage

Barbie certainly knows how to capture media interest. 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
  • Barbie made the front cover of Time magazine in 2016 with the launch of new body types
  • The Barbie movie hit screens in summer 2023. This is expected to see sales of the doll grow 16% by 2026.

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 2.5 million followers. This sits alongside Barbie and Barbie The Movie accounts that have even more followers.

Barbie is smashing it on Instagram but this approach might not work for everyone. As we always tell our clients, you should be 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 it’s worth it.

As the Barbie team posted: “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.

Today the Barbie brand works with organisations, charities and celebrities. They have created a global community of Barbie partners and advocates.

Use special days as hooks for your key messages

There are so many opportunities for businesses to generate content around relevant national and international days. Barbie’s channels mark events such as International Women’s Day and Valentine’s Day. All this activity supports their key message of inspiring girls.

Wanna be a successful brand superstar?

If you want to grow your business or brand, get in touch with our friendly team.

Photo credit: Barbie image by Eirien

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