Barbie Marketing Strategies: A Masterclass in Attention Advertising

Nandini Agarwal

Nandini Agarwal

Marketing Intern

From kids’ favorite toys in the past to adults’ trendy looks today - Mattel’s Barbie has done it again. Their target audience is bigger than ever, and today we will explore how they pulled this off and how you could do the same.

Barbie has become one of the biggest hypes of 2023 which painted the world pink, literally. If you haven’t noticed it yet, maybe you are the one trapped in a plastic toy box. Barbie’s marketing team left no stone unturned and that is why they have earned $1 billion at the Worldwide Box Office with an opening of $356 million over its first weekend.

The movie nailed it with its storyline, humor, and thoughtful message on feminism for it to become a blockbuster, but for it to have this massive reach all over the world, its marketing team did an exceptional job at grabbing peoples’ attention.
The more attention you can grab, the more people will look at you. It’s a simple logic yet hard to deliver. Barbie nailed this attention aspect and you can too if you have certain tools in your pocket that I will mention shortly.

Reviving the brand back

It has been over six decades since Barbie was first introduced. Mattel has seen its ups and downs with recent years being more toward losses for Barbie’s sales. As we all know, in today’s time Barbie has received several criticisms for promoting unrealistic body standards and impacting the self-esteem of children.

Mattel tried to overcome this by introducing a new line of Barbie collection which would be more realistic and diverse, but the excitement of owning a Barbie was lost. Children were fascinated with tablets and electronic toys, so getting back the craze for Barbie seemed difficult. Should Mattel have given up on Barbie’s production knowing the growing technology era was impossible to compete with? Their marketing team did not take the losing road as an option, instead, they dived into their customers’ deepest desires. The desire to feel “belonged’.

Technology could never fill the void of loneliness. Humans want to feel accepted, understood and be a part of a community. Barbie's movie generated exactly those emotions. To get people to watch this movie, knowing that many had a negative outlook on Barbie, they used a clever catchphrase, “If you love Barbie, this movie is for you. If you hate Barbie, this movie is for you.” This way they targeted, literally, everybody. This began the start of their well-crafted attention-grabbing marketing campaign.

The takeaway from here: Using emotions in marketing is key. As the famous saying goes “People will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”

Nailing brand recognition

Cities are turning pink, everybody is going to theaters dressed in pink for the movie’s release, and there is a Barbie-themed Airbnb in Malibu painted in pink. Keeping consistency improved their brand recognition, and this is one major factor many brands forget when advertising. Barbie’s Pink was relatively easy to be recognized as a brand because of its decades of existence, but for a newer, less-known brand, its name is its face.

For you to be able to nail brand recognition like Barbie, is an amazing tool that gives you a score on brand recognition in your YouTube advertisements. The insight it provides can help in making your brand more memorable in your customers’ minds.

Takeaway: Be consistent with displaying your brand and its theme. is a great tool for getting this insight.

Using AI to level up

Keeping up with the time, Barbie’s marketing team leveled up by involving the use of AI in their strategy. They created a tool where people could make their own Barbie-like posters with their own photos and catchphrases. This was brilliant since it involved the growing trend of AI usage, interactivity, and widespread sharing. They made their audience the center of attention by making them use their pictures. Infusing brand marketing with people’s personal life is like hitting the bull’s eye. This helped people feel connected to the movie, before it was even released, thereby ensuring that they will turn into a paid customer by going to the theater for the movie.

Imagine, if these posters were made all wrong, with the attention-grabbing material not positioned at the right spots? Would this marketing strategy have succeeded then?

Displaying all necessary information on a poster is a straightforward job but how to be sure that it is stopping people from scrolling through. This is where another amazing AI platform comes in called Here you can upload your content’s image or video and see through a heatmap where your audience’s attention goes first. You can also test how much attention different elements in your posters are getting.

Take the above image as an example. The poster on the left is the AI-generated Barbie poster and the one on the right is a poster by Star Trek. We ran the attention heatmap on these through to see which one would catch more eyes. As you can see, the name of the movie “Barbie” got a 37.2% attention score compared to the other poster “The Voyage Home, Star Trek IV” which only received 6.2% attention. If the name of the movie itself is attracting less attention, it would be difficult to recall which movie the poster represented.

Making a poster is not enough to make it go viral but scientifically seeing what are the attention areas and validating if your main message is being seen first is the real deal.

Takeaway: Merge AI with your creativity to reach wider audiences. Measure how much attention your content would get with to reach the top of your game.

Leaving a lasting mark through collaboration

With 100+ collaborations, Barbie has left its’ mark in all types of industries. From make-up, clothing, food, Airbnb, and even Xbox, they spread their reach massively.

Even the metaverse was swooped in the Barbie fever. Forever 21, in collaboration with the legendary doll, introduced not just a clothing collection in physical shops but also replicated the collection within the digital world of Roblox. The collaboration also included a contest where the winner and their fashion sense were brought to life within the online gaming platform.
Xbox also hosted a contest where the winner would receive a pink console housed in a mini replica of Barbie’s Dreamhouse. Players of Forza Horizon 5 would also get an in-game replica of Barbie and Ken’s cars from the movie.

With this intense visibility of seeing Barbie theme in every product that you buy, who would want to miss watching this movie?

Takeaway: Out of sight is out of mind. To be consistently visible, collaboration is a great way to have a lasting impact.


If you want people to convert into paid and loyal customers, you need to grab their attention first. Barbie had lost its audiences’ attention with time but it got back with a bang by not only attracting its usual customers but also increasing its reach to a wider range of people. They accomplished this milestone through attention advertising which involved using emotions, brand consistency, AI, and collaborations.
Your product could be valuable but if not marketed right, its value will not reach the right audience. Make your marketing memorable by staying up to date with the latest trends and tools and get your customers’ attention by using and

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