By Clarissa Dickinson
Over the past few months, many people were shocked to discover the “Barbie” movie hadn’t actually been released yet. While July 21, 2023 was the official release date of the most anticipated film of the year, the long lead up to the film since the original teaser dropped in 2022 was filled to the brim with licensing agreements, teaser trailers, interviews and the recent press tour that has captured every Barbie lover’s heart.
So what is it specifically about this movie that has brands raising their hands enthusiastically just to be able to create co-branded products? First, many brands have consistently had Barbie licensing deals for decades, so the styles and partnerships are nothing new to industries like fashion and beauty. What is new is the sudden influx of partnerships across every (and I mean every) industry.
Over the past two months, we’ve seen rug brands, high-end glassware, toothpaste, apparel, beauty and more announce their own Barbie partnerships. While some are unsurprising (looking at you Crocs and Homesick Candles), many have surprised fans due to the almost random nature of them (Moon Oral’s pink toothpaste or washable rug brand Ruggable spring to mind).
The real question we’ve asked ourselves is, with all of these brands from fast food to luxury fashion partnering with Mattel, is the Barbie market oversaturated? Are people going to be sick of hot pink before the movie is even released? As someone who waited on the Beis luggage website at exactly 12 p.m. on July 19 to snag one of its Barbie suitcases, my answer is no. Who could ever be sick of pink?! However, I acknowledge I am not the majority in this case.
What I can say is no movie in recent years has had this much buzz leading up to it, and the Mattel marketing team knows what it’s doing. This movie, as Margot Robbie recently stated, is “for everyone,” and the brand collabs stay true to that. While in the past primarily kids and nostalgic millennials were able to find Barbie merchandise, thanks to the Barbie movie, now everyone can find something pink and sparkly that relates to their life in one way or another. On top of that, not only does the media cover each individual launch in its relevant industry, but all lifestyle pubs have round-ups of the various Barbie collabs. And social media is abuzz with influencer hauls and reviews, garnering insane visibility for the brand before anyone even steps foot into the theater.
With Barbie set to gross more than $100 million in its opening weekend, Mattel has surely succeeded in ensuring we are all Barbie girls just living in a Barbie world.
Finally, now that we’ve been inundated with Barbie merch and press for more than a year, the real question we’ve all been dying to know is… does the movie live up to the hype?! (yes, yes it does.)
Clarissa Dickinson is an account director in the consumer practice at Allison+Partners in New York City with a specialty in beauty and lifestyle.