Barbie-mania Australia: The ultimate brand campaign

By Ruby Derrick | 20 July 2023
oOh! Barbie activation.

The Barbie filmin cinemas todayhas got everybody talking pink in what's been heralded as the ultimate brand campaign.  

In Australia and the rest of the world, with local star Margot Robbie as Barbie, the nostalgic brand has graced the stations and streets of every major metropolis, alongside the myriad brand collaborations flooding social media. 

Dani Collins, senior strategist at independent media and creative agency AFFINITY, is a Barbie consumer from many moons ago.

And it’s been nostalgic reconnecting with the brand in a modern moment, experiencing it outside of the toy aisle.  

"From burgers to beauty, and pink-tinged social feeds, the Barbie marketing machine has been impressive to watch,” she said.  

The question will be, Collins notes, what the Barbie franchise looks like after the movie hype fades. 

Will it be able to sustain its relevance with its reengaged fans or does it risk brand fatigue?"  

Outdoor media company, JCDecaux Australia, partnered with Universal Pictures Australia on behalf of Warner Bros., and Essence Mediacom, to launch Paint Australia Barbie Pink! 

Marie Norman, head of product and brand marketing at JCDecaux, believes marketers all over the world will be talking about this campaign for years to come.  

JCDecaux Barbie

It’s everywhere and everything – it’s the ultimate omnichannel marketing campaign, says Norman.  

As Mark Ritson preaches in his courses: you develop your distinctive brand codes and then ‘codify, codify, codify the sh*t out of them’,” she said. 

“Here they have gone above and beyond. I especially love the Barbie-pink billboards in the UK with nothing but the film release date in the Barbie font. 

In Australia, the out-of-home campaign has provided a mass reach broadcast platform for the broad audience the movie is targeting, notes Norman.  

While Barbie shares similarities with other film advertisers in leveraging the media channel's strengths, the brand's unique and creative strategy sets it apart from the rest,” she said. 

For Norman, what makes these ad placements stand out is the ingenuity and creativity behind them.  

The captivating visual aesthetics and pink brand proposition of Barbie have proven particularly effective during the winter months in Australia – painting our town pink,” she said.  

The creative execution of these advertisements has undeniably captured attention and left a lasting impression. Now I can’t wait to catch the film and see what all the hype is about. 

Barbie-mania has also taken to Sydney’s Oxford Street with an eye-catching out-of-home special build from oOh!’s innovation and creative hub, POLY. 

POLY Barbie

Ahead of the launch of the comedy featuring Robbie and Ryan Gosling, POLY created a dazzling large format classic billboard that’s more art than ad, bringing all of Barbie’s glitz and sparkle to oOh!’s Taylor Square site.   

Rebecca Turner, managing partner at The Core Agency, says this Barbie campaign does the ultimate job of using advertising to shape culture.  

One simply cannot look at the colour pink at the moment and not think ‘Barbie!’, she said. 

"The team behind the marketing have stuck to the fundamentals with strong and consistent use of their brand codes,” said Turner.   

They’ve also invited consumers to be part of the brand in ways that rival the likes of the Share a Coke campaign.  

Turner said this is all wrapped up in a mood of nostalgia, strong contextualisation, celebrity endorsement and clever teasing of content.   

It really is the ultimate demonstration of using all the tricks in a marketer's arsenal and I suspect will pay off massively come opening weekend,” she said. 

With strategic consideration and selection of multiple formats, POLY worked with Warner Bros Australia and EssenceMediacom to maximise out of home as a creative platform, said Alex Rog, strategy director at POLY. 

“Bringing to life and immersing audiences in the playful nature of Barbie’s universe,” he said. 

The campaign spanned Melbourne’s CBD with 3D Anamorphic replicating the iconic toy box on ‘The Bourke’, to the glittering glamour of Spangleys on Sydney’s Taylor’s Square as well as the unashamedly (and unmissable) pink shelters, said Rog.  

“This campaign was the ultimate use of out of home to engage Australians on the move,” he said. 

"The team were incredibly excited about the opportunity to 'paint out of home pink' and use our amazing locations to celebrate Barbie with some classic special build executions that sparkle and give Barbie (and Ken) the attention they deserve!" 

Ben Baker, managing director APAC at Vistar Media, said across Australia, the launch of the Barbie movie has demonstrated the innate value that place-based and out-of-home marketing can have on a brand's campaign.

By zoning in on contextually relevant environments, notes Baker, Barbie has allowed itself to uniquely engage with consumers as they go about their everyday activities in places where creative messaging can be matched to a location.

"What Barbie has done especially well regarding its OOH campaign is keeping it simple and minimalistic," he said.

"Colour is a signal our brains perceive quickly and automatically, so leveraging the iconic Barbie pink has been extremely effective as an attention tool."

What’s more is the lack of imagery in general throughout the Australian campaign, taking everyone back to the old adage that often, less is more, said Baker.

"To sum up the Barbie campaign, it is considerate and mindful of the audience’s motivations, location and priorities from the moment it engages with them, and serves as a wonderful example of place-based OOH marketing done right."

The film’s marketing wasn't just limited to billboards and buses. Communications agency Bastion also nailed the Barbie brief with its neon-pink creation of the Dreamburgers Diner at Grill'd Galeries to select influencers in celebration of the Barbie movie.  

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