Campaign Teardown

Barbie Marketing: How the New ‘Barbie’ Movie Went Viral

By Editorial Staff

Last week, the official teaser trailer for the highly anticipated Barbie the Movie was released. Along with the teaser trailer, images introducing the cast of Barbies, Kens, and humans of Barbie the Movie were released on all of the film’s social media platforms. You might already know about the movie’s release date, but why? In this blog, we’ll cover how the Barbie marketing helped the movie go viral!

How Did Barbie the Movie Go Viral?

The social media platforms for Barbie the Movie released 24 promotional posters. Not only did the movie’s social media platforms release the posters, but each star released their own poster on their personal social media. 24 different stars including Margot Robbie, Nicola Coughlan, America Ferrera, and so many more, posted the same Barbie marketing poster, and surely that got people’s attention.

If you somehow haven’t seen them before, all of the cast images included a sky blue backdrop with a sparkly starburst featured in the center. The cast member appeared to be coming out of the starburst with the ‘Barbie’ logo printed in front of them, their name featured above them, with their character’s Barbie persona printed somewhere else among the posters. 


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A post shared by BARBIE (@barbiethemovie)

These images easily captured consumers’ hearts, and those with the editing chops quickly used the reproducible format to meme-ify the posters with other celebrities, characters, and other items. However, Warner Brothers knew the potential of the format they were putting out. They created the Barbie Selfie Generator: an AI-powered website allowing users to put themselves into the marketing posters, along with a suggested Barbie-like catchphrase like, “This Barbie is a boss.” You can also customize the catchphrase to your liking. 

Why Was This Marketing Campaign So Successful? 

The Barbie marketing campaign was so successful because of the brilliant use of UGC (user-generated content). With the formulaic poster, the AI-powered selfie generator, and a star-studded cast, the Barbie marketing campaign could not lose. 

The original intent of the UGC play from the Barbie marketing team may have been to play on people’s nostalgia for playing with Barbies, and that very well may have worked in some cases in the campaign’s infancy. However, as the campaign gained traction, the point of using the AI-powered selfie generator was to become funny and create a meme.

Credit: @disneychannel on Twitter.

This is not to say that the campaign failed, the campaign was clearly a roaring success. Consumers are still using the AI-powered selfie generator to create and share memes, forcing people to see the branding. Any marketing team that has a campaign that gets itself to meme status should congratulate themselves on ‘making it.’ 

The Takeaway From the Success of the Barbie Marketing Campaign

The Barbie marketing campaign told the industry in a big way that interactive marketing is the way to go for your next marketing campaign. Interactive marketing is a marketing tactic that uses engaging images or visuals to get consumers to engage with your content. Interactive marketing is commonly used throughout the industry. However, Barbie the Movie practically created a formula for it. 

Check out the latest influencer marketing trends this year here!

The Barbie posters for each cast member were all the same: the same sky blue background, the same sparkly starburst, and the same Barbie logo design, but each was personalized to the character that they were playing. The Barbie marketing team did this to, of course, promote the movie. In addition to this, they were able to get consumers to interact with their promotional material. 

Seeing that each poster was basically the same with a couple of differences per poster, consumers saw their shot. They could be on a Barbie poster! That is why the AI-powered selfie generator was ingenious. 

Credit: @barbiethemovie Instagram.

For those that aren’t Photoshop literate, the selfie generator allows them to join in on the fun and edit themselves onto the Barbie poster too: they can be the idealized version of themselves they’ve always wanted to be and plaster it on all of their social media platforms, while the movie continues to reap the benefits of continuously receiving free promotion. 

Creating such a shareable marketing campaign that either made people want to become the Barbie they always wanted to be or just make tons and tons of memes all contributed to the success of this campaign and Barbie the Movie going viral. 

How to Use This Strategy For Your Brand

Interactive marketing has a couple of ways to get consumers wanting to be a part of the campaign a brand has created: 


Encouraging consumers to take part in a campaign with an incentive such as the promise of a month free trial of your subscription or a giveaway of some kind can surely get people interested in participating. An example of this being done is Zoom’s Virtual Background Challenge. 

Zoom introduced the Zoom Virtual Background Challenge in March 2020 for remote workers. The campaign was a monthly competition where participants could share photos or videos using Zoom’s virtual background feature. The campaign garnered over 50,000 people signing up for Zoom accounts just to take part in the competition. 

Spice up your next video conference call with these Zoom backgrounds!


As previously mentioned, the Barbie marketing campaign’s original intent may have been to play on people’s nostalgia towards Barbies and wanting to be that idealized doll, and their marketing campaign allowed us to do that. 

As of writing this blog post, #barbiethemovie on TikTok has 121.5 million views. Many users utilized the official AI selfie generator filter on TikTok, reacted to the trailer, or used sound bites from the trailer to create their own content. 

Totally mystified by TikTok? Check out this how-to on using TikTok for marketing!

Common Cause 

Consumers often feel that when it comes to promotional material, all brands are trying to manipulate them to buy their products or services. Giving consumers a common cause to work towards or talk about makes it more like the brand is doing something that’s actually good. 

The most popular example of this is Wendy’s Chicken Nugget Retweet Challenge. This was one of the most talked about social media crazes of 2017. Carter Wilkerson tweeted at Wendy’s, the popular fast food chain, asking how many retweets he would need to earn a full year of free chicken nuggets. To his surprise, the chain replied with a simple tweet back, “18 million.” 

You can hardly call this Twitter thread a marketing campaign, but it absolutely had people talking and rooting for Wilkerson to get his free chicken nuggets. Before long, even Wendy’s was rooting for Wilkerson. Seeing their positive attention on social media, Wendy’s began encouraging users to help him reach his goal. Though the tweet didn’t reach the goal set, it did become the most retweeted tweet of all time (at the time). So, Wendy’s did end up rewarding Wilkerson’s efforts.

Final Thoughts

Overall, the marketing campaign was a huge success; now everyone’s talking about the movie! The movie will only be in theaters this summer on July 21st, so be sure to check it out! The hype warrants a watch even if you aren’t a Barbie fan.


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A post shared by BARBIE (@barbiethemovie)

This article was written by Alyssa Micalizzi

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