Standing out with fame: Be more Barbie!

Written by Mani Sian

Tom Cruise knows a thing or two about fame. Top Gun: Maverick flew to $1.5 billion in global ticket sales when it finally came out last year. However, this summer, Tom Cruise came a distant third to Mattel’s Barbie. Tom’s Mission Impossible – Dead Reckoning opened to $15.5M while Barbie grossed $162 million on its opening weekend to land the biggest debut of the year. Over 10X more than Tom!

How did this gamble of a movie from Mattel beat the world’s most famous action star? Well, it’s because the Barbie campaign didn’t follow the traditional approach of a theatrical teaser trailer with round-robin PR and press talks, culminating in global launch premieres. Barbie went much further. They wanted to be embedded in culture, be talked about, be the zeitgeist.

The film launched alongside more than a hundred bright pink branding deals, from pink sparkles on Google search results to Barbie-endorsed home insurance, a sold-out line of Barbie Crocs, and hot-pink double-decker buses all over London. Use of the #Barbie hashtag skyrocketed with TikTok videos using the hashtag amassing over 9bn views.

They achieved all this by over-investing in marketing. Yes, they had a big budget of $150M, but given that the film cost $145M to make, I’d say they started at a loss!

Crucially, Barbie chose fame over awareness. The key distinction between these two approaches lies in fame campaigns' focus on creating lasting emotional connections versus awareness campaigns' emphasis on informing an audience about a brand's presence and offerings. Fame campaigns are campaigns that get you attention. They get talked about and drive word of mouth. Fame campaigns are about being bold and original.

But in B2B, instead of trying to build fame, what we see time and time again is brands just creating more content. According to research by Content Marketing Institute, 84% of B2B marketeers say awareness is their top goal and 86% say they use content to create brand awareness, but it’s not content we need… it’s big ideas!

To create fame in B2B, brands need big, stretchy creative ideas that get attention. New Kantar and WARC evidence proves that creative ads generate more than four times as much profit so creative effectiveness really is the key profit multiplier of your marketing investment! What’s more, research from marketing research company, System1, shows that ads rated excellent for brand-building ALSO produce great short-term results and increase sales.

To achieve long term growth, brands need to start choosing fame over awareness and building disruptive campaign platforms that grab attention and build memorability over time. And if you’re still not sure there’s plenty of evidence out there that B2B can create stand-out campaigns that generate fame!

So, the next time you’re thinking about how generate meaningful growth for your brand ask yourself, “What would Barbie do?"



You might also like