Behind the scenes of the barbie marketing campaign: how was affordable email used?

"do you guys ever think about email?"

A breakdown of how email was used alongside Warner Bros. Barbie marketing campaign

It’s one month since Warner Bros. dropped the Box Office breaking tale of Mattel’s iconic doll. Like other marketers across countries hit by Barbie fever, we’ve spent that time drinking in every detail – watching, wondering, and assessing. Like other data analysts, we gave ourselves the moral obligation to observe the data surrounding the Barbie marketing campaign for an entire month before passing comments.


So, here goes!

life is fantastic when you've got plastic $

Yes, Rares Stoica hit the hot pink manicured nail on the head when he said “You can’t expect Barbie results on a rag-doll budget”.

Causing every Barbie doll to sell out had a price.

Hitting record-breaking figures via the Barbie film had a price.

Convincing entire nations to interact with Barbie had a price

"Generating a Barbie girl movement across several countries had a price.

$150mil, allegedly."

(not inc. the movie production, which cost $145mil).


Warner Bros. said little about the budget except that it was “a responsible amount to spend”.


Moving swiftly on…

Not every piece of marketing activity cost Barbie’s marketing campaign ££££££.

Sure – building a real-life Airbnb Barbie Dreamhouse drank the budget – so did the interactive ads before the Burg Khalifa and the product partnership with Burger King Brazil to make pink burgers.

But what about the classic lead drivers used to sell Barbie movie tickets, or Barbie dolls via the Mattel Creations website? What about the tool used to alert Barbie fans about stock replenishments? The registration verifications? The abandoned cart reminders? The new product `drops`? Wait… are we saying these are low-cost lead generators?

`Ey up! Email marketing just entered the chat.

It’s easy to forget about the essential marketing tools used behind the scenes of the flashy Barbie campaign.

And that’s because, frankly, they’re impressive and impossible to ignore. “Barbie has schooled us”, and “we’re learning from her”… but these lessons aren’t particularly useful nuggets to carry away and use. Or, at least, once the Barbie buzz has died.

Let’s talk about the dimmer parts of the Barbie marketing campaign – ways to bring return rather than spend out. The lead drivers that enable Barbie fans to buy dolls, tickets, memberships, and more. And the means of generating a return on that much-discussed $150mil marketing budget.

Lest we forget about our old workhorses like email helping to carry those sales from brand to the basket

Here are just some of the ways email has been used by Mattel and other participating product brands to generate extra sales, opportunities, sign-ups, and more.

#1: By using Barbie to model every email marketing accessory

Barbie’s brand recognition really helps here. Barbie is used to model everything from static page forms to landing pages and pop-ups. The Barbie movement has been all-inclusive and addictive to engage with – and as the tagline says: “If you love Barbie, this movie is for you. If you hate Barbie, this movie is for you”. Positioning Barbie next to the sign-up box is a one-way invitation to Barbie World.

Be the first to know: Sign up for Mattel Creations emails to be the first to see news and drops.


#2: By offering an email notification service when Barbie dolls are restocked

Last time we checked, there were 1.5k monthly searches for: “OK Google, can you get me toy shops that got Barbie?”. Every Barbie doll on the Mattel Creations website is out of stock (no surprise there). Offering an email alert service to notify parents and fans alike was an essential move to ensure those sales hit shortly after the Barbie dolls sashayed onto shelves. The stock notification service would have already been in place for every other Mattel toy, of course… but making it specific to Barbie was key in ensuring people used it.


#3: The likes of Mattel Creations, Warner Bros., and participating product brands milked the newsletter sign-up box

Adding extra newsletter sign-up boxes is such an easy, customer-friendly way of increasing data collection opportunities. It’s natural in terms of CRO (as long as they’re not intrusive), and they genuinely help customers out by appearing frequently as they scroll. Furthermore, you can use different call-to-actions on each sign-up box to reflect varying offerings: “get news drops”, “find out about exclusive toys”, “get early access”, “get a VIP discount”, etc.


#4: By creating a `Barbie Signature Membership` which requires email registration

`Members only` content is an awesome way of retaining the interest of high-quality leads, especially when such a sought-after product or brand is at the helm. You can bet that Barbie Signature Members also have an interest in collecting limited edition Barbie dolls or being the first to advance-book tickets to see the movie. Email automation journeys can create a seamless experience here.


#5: By building product partnerships, and starring in their emails

The Barbie marketing campaign was self-fuelling from day one. Brands and their products wanted to capitalise on the movie release. Some of our favourite product partnerships we’ve seen include:



Burger King


We love seeing Barbie star in these matchy-matchy, prettily designed HTML emails. Sure  – they don’t pass through the spam filters like plainer sends. But when you’re Barbie, who cares?

#6: By using email marketing to coincide with new product releases

After 64 years of Barbie and releasing every type of doll imaginable, the brand is finally ready to give us `Weird Barbie` (which reportedly isn’t weird enough, but that’s a story for another day).

The release of this doll, among other new products, coincides with the movie. All the more reason to sign up for newsletter alerts! If you want to take data, be prepared to give.


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