Unboxing Barbie: Brand Partnerships and Societal Impact.

Our Strategy Director, Steven Workman, draws parallels between the world of marketing and the recently released Barbie film.

Barbie has been an integral part of our cultural fabric for decades. From being a prop in our childhood adventures to representing myriad societal norms, Barbie has done it all. This intriguing movie adaptation has left a significant impression on me. I watched it with my daughters, aged 11 and 14, and we found ourselves engrossed in Barbie's voyage of self-discovery.

Christopher Nolan's Oppenheimer didn't stand a chance against Barbie – besides, he owes me back a few hours for Tenet, so I’m holding a grudge. The movie has tackled body image issues, role modelling, and Margot Robbie's portrayal of Barbie brilliantly. This nuanced and deft handling levels any criticism flat, demonstrating the impact of good writing and strategic vision.

For me, the film scores a commendable 9/10, losing a point for its conclusion, which could have leaned more towards optimism. While the film does critique patriarchy with humour and Candor, a bolder move would have been to have Barbie come out as queer. This plot twist could have added depth to Ken's struggle and elevated Barbie's journey, offering a "Fight Club" equivalent experience for females.

The movie, much like Fight Club, isn't just about the superficial storyline. If you think Fight Club was about brawling, you've missed the point. Similarly, Barbie is not just about gender roles but provides a larger commentary on equality.

Ryan Gosling's portrayal of Ken was commendable. He gave depth to a character often sidelined as an accessory. The promotional line, 'She's everything. He’s just Ken.' brilliantly underscores this dynamic before you even set foot in the theatre.

But let's pivot to what's truly fascinating: the marketing potential this film has unleashed. With the movie, Mattel has revitalised their brand's relevance in contemporary times, culminating in collaborations with over a hundred brands, from Zara and Primark to Burger King and Uno.

Zara's Barbie-themed collection was a hit, with some products selling out within hours of launching. The exhaustive range, including clothing, accessories, and home decor items, reaffirms the brand's resonance with consumers. Primark, along with Selfridges, Gap, Boohoo, Crocs, and ASOS, followed suit with their own Barbie-themed collections, leading to an explosion of Barbie-inspired products in the market.

The popularity of the Barbie aesthetic was further accentuated with the hashtag #Barbiecore accumulating over 313.1M views on TikTok. Events and collaborations, like those with Kitsch and NYX Professional Makeup, all align with the film's message that Barbie isn’t confined to one archetype but encompasses all forms.

The overwhelming positive response to the movie, its impact on beauty trends, and its strategic collaborations reaffirm one fact: despite the highs and lows, Barbie continues to resonate with consumers and brands alike. Much like Fight Club challenged societal norms, Barbie is making its mark, driving conversations around body image and gender roles. So yes, it's the Fight Club for females. And we're here for it.

Steven Workman.

Strategy Director. N2O.

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