The hype is making Barbie’s marketing pink start to fade

The expression “patriarchy” appears several times in the Warner film “Barbie,” the third-biggest opening in Brazilian cinema history, which attracted 7 million viewers between July 20 and 28.

In the feature film, directed by Greta Gerwig, the Barbie doll (Margot Robbie) is outraged to find in the real world a context completely different from that experienced in Barbieland, where women are in charge and Ken dolls are merely supporting actors, insufferable. But one of the Kens (Ryan Gosling) decides to introduce into Barbieland the ideas of male power and dominance over women, to the dismay of Barbie, who questions her very existence as a “stereotypical” doll.

Social criticism took on touches of humor and irony in the film, evoking a “pink feminism” that was embraced by several advertisers who signed licensing deals with Mattel, owner of Barbie.

In Brazil, the brand featured Melissa clogs, Ipanema flip flops, clothing and accessories from retailers C&A, Renner and Riachuelo, OPI nail polish (Wella), Condor toothbrush, Luxcel bags, handmade cookies from Biscoitê and even a sandwich and milk shake combo from the Burger King, with pink sauce on the hamburger and a theme store in Sao Paulo.

But even those who had absolutely nothing to do with the Barbieland universe decided to join the pink wave. This was the case of the São Paulo Detran, which released a statement titled “Detran SP explains the rules for participating in the pink trend of the moment,” informing drivers of what they need to do to change the color of the car.

Poupatempo in São Paulo also released an ad on social networks about a joint effort to renew the driver’s license with the character Bárbara, “who came directly from Barbielândia to arrange the document in São Paulo.”

The manufacturer Embalixo, on the other hand, promoted an action in the cinemas of Campinas (SP) and São Paulo, distributing pink garbage bags to the public before the cinema sessions. The product will definitely enter the portfolio of the company, based in Hortolândia (SP), and will be available on supermarket shelves in 60 days. The product will have an odor neutralizer, antibacterial action and fragrance.

According to marketing experts polled by Bed sheet, indiscriminate association with Barbie can have adverse effects. “The code to take a ‘Barbiecore’ ride is simple, just wear pink,” says Maurício Felício, professor of communication and publicity at ESPM and head of media at Energy BBDO. “But if the advertiser doesn’t have the ability to use color, it will be criticized or ignored by the public,” he says.

“It runs the risk of appearing desperate for attention or uncompensated by giving more than ideal importance to the brand.”

For master’s degree psychologist in gender Cecília Russo Troiano, general manager of Troiano Branding, the fact that Detran SP is associated with Barbie pink sounds like a contradiction. “From the point of view of archetypes, a government autocracy represents exactly patriarchy, with the imposition of rules and boundaries,” he says. “Going on just because it’s ‘hype’, it’s high, is no excuse. The brand is tainted with elements that are not part of its identity.”

Cecília remembers that supporting Barbie’s pink is completely different from supporting “Pink October”, for example, a campaign that proposes to share information about breast cancer. “On the one hand it’s a social initiative, promoting health, on the other hand it helps spread a commercial initiative, which interests the doll manufacturer,” he says.

According to the expert, waves like Barbie’s, in general, are very short and intense. “There are stages of appreciation, overexposure and trivialization, which seems to be starting now,” he says.

According to Google’s Google Trends tool, which shows the level of interest in a topic on the world’s main Internet search engine, on the 21st, the day after the film’s world premiere, the topic reached the 100 index in searches, both in Brazil as well as in the world. Since then, it has been declining, reaching an index of 43 in the world and 25 in Brazil. Between July 20 and 27, Brazil was the fifth country where the theme stood out the most, ahead of the United States, home of Mattel, which was in 6th place. The first was Puerto Rico.

In Google Trends, search volume is presented as an interest index, on a scale of 0 to 100, where 100 represents maximum search interest. The platform calculates searches by topic and divides them by the total number of queries made in a given geography, in a given period.

In a wave, says Maurício Felício, it is necessary to know when to enter and when to exit, before the theme starts to become saturated and the brand appears as a “landscape”. “If you become another person wearing pink, no one pays attention to you anymore,” says the ESPM professor, for whom the “Barbie wave” should already have died down in August.

For the expert, however, Mattel’s marketing was effective, in rescuing nostalgia in those who played with the doll and packaging the toy universe in a new form, updated with the values ​​that society is looking for, such as gender equality and diversity. “The Barbie brand assumed that it needed to change and showed a pink feminism, associating the color no longer with a fragile or superficial woman, but with an empowered woman.”

Clothes sell more than toys

However, there are also those who bet that the pink wave will be timeless. At C&A, the licensed Barbie collection totals 60,000 pieces, from more than 30 different models. Since launching on June 30, the fashion retailer has already sold 85% of its inventory, including clothing and accessories. Because of this, he has already lined up replacements for August.

“Barbie’s success has been established for decades and should continue, even after the explosion of the movie release,” says Mariana Moraes, C&A’s director of marketing. “In addition to the planned replenishment for August, we are studying the entry of new products for the coming months.”

According to e-commerce platform Nuvemshop, which serves 120,000 small and medium virtual shopkeepers, sales of items classified as “pink” increased by 40% between July 1 and 27, compared to the same period last year, reaching a total of 181 thousand products. , including accessories and clothing. Already sales of products classified as ‘pink’ have almost doubled, up 96%, to more than 100,000 products sold this month.

The Ri Happy Group, the country’s largest toy retailer, claims that the Barbie brand saw a double-digit increase in sales in July this year, compared to the same period last year. “We could see a lot of interest in the products of the Barbie range, in general, with a focus on Barbie Color Reveal and Barbie O Filme – Perfect Day,” says Elisabete Guimarães, Ri Happy’s senior buyer.

According to analysts interviewed by Reuters, the film will help Mattel boost its third-quarter royalties earnings, not necessarily through toy sales, as the film appeals to a larger audience.

According to research by Quantum Finance on the Bed sheetshares of the American gaming multinational fell 17.25% in 2022, but this year managed to recover, accumulating a 19.06% gain through July 27.

Barbie was Mattel’s top brand from 2019 to 2022, according to company data. But its gross has lagged Hot Wheels in the first half of 2023.

The doll, created in 1959, had already been revised in recent years – adopted new colors and ethnicities (black, Asian, Latino), new bodies (fat, wide-hipped), embraced differences (there are versions of the blind Barbie, in a wheelchair wheelchair, vitiligo or Down syndrome), in addition to working in the most diverse professions, from doctor to astronaut, firefighter, footballer and businessman.

In an interview with US television network CNBC, Mattel CEO Ynon Kreiz said that, with the film, the company wanted to do something different and unique, that stood out. “It’s not about making a movie, it’s about making an iconic cultural moment,” he said. It remains to be seen whether the new Barbie, with her incredible instagram appeal, will win over the Alpha generation, those born from 2010 onwards.

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