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Special Project

Special Project
From the 16th Annual Shorty Awards

Barbie Breaks Out The Box (Office)

Winner in Entertainment, Innovative Media Buying Strategy

Silver Honor in Integrated Campaign


To hit an ambitious box office goal, we had to show that the Barbie movie had something for everybody, whether already a Barbie admirer or a skeptic. 

While core fans were excited from the first photo release, we needed a deeper understanding of how to best harness the passion of these ardent advocates, and yet how to convert non-fans, creating excitement for the release and an ongoing buzz on both ends. 

The first step was a thorough analysis of our main target audience (new doll idea: Barbie, Media Maven). We found an illuminating insight: 53% of our prototypical audience had a love for nostalgic content. With nostalgia being a constant element in contemporary culture, we could leverage the fact that Barbie has been a leading player in mass consumers’ imagery for over six decades, meaning anyone from each of those generations would be able to tap into that yearning for the past. 

If we could convert the joy and enthusiasm for Barbie’s plastic heritage into engagement from our main target audience, we could also inspire intrigue from non-Barbie fans, igniting unprecedented levels of excitement to drive over $100MM at the box office and make Barbie movie the defining pop-culture moment of the year.

Strategy and Execution

With plenty of fun nostalgic elements to play with -  the Dreamhouse, the Corvette, the Fashion, the Pink - our key goal was to insert a modern, creative twist. 

We needed to revert the typical movie marketing approach and provide the core Barbie fanbase the tools they needed to shout our message, amplifying the FUN and convert broader audiences. Instead of talking to little girls playing with the Barbie Dreamhouse, we went for their Moms and other proud Millennials and Gen Xers, speaking directly to their inner child.    

To unlock more accessibility beyond our core audience, we played in media intersections where we could put a contemporary, individualized spin on personal reference points, particularly those with high affinities amongst the Barbie fans (pop culture, social, streaming, and tech). 


★ Bring Barbie’s signature fun to these passion points, directly inspiring massive opening weekend turnout through contemporized nostalgia. 

★ Use a cross-channel media approach to stand out, especially on social. We activated a movement among the Barbie faithful, amplifying our media dollars and fueling excitement for a true zeitgeist moment. 

★ Our favorite part: the more fan expression we fuel, the more we trigger FOMO among other audiences. Our OOH installations, experiential activations, and linear tie-ins would be so good our fans won’t be able to stop themselves from playing along on social. 

We would create an UNMISSABLE cinematic event, activating an army of fans to make Barbie the cross-generational cultural moment of the summer that no one dared to miss out on, for one reason or another. 


Retail therapy? Yes please. We took over all of Amazon, with a custom Alexa Barbie theme, an all-pink homepage during Prime Week and opening week, and high-viz appearances on Amazon properties including four first-ever executions.   

Did we mention social? How about a fully-explorable 3D Dreamhouse on Pinterest with hidden movie unlockables? Or a breakthrough Snap lens that let fans turn iconic landmarks into Barbieland versions (pink is Lady Liberty’s real color).  

For those pre-streaming nostalgic 90s faves to prepare, we turned the Roku City screensaver into Barbieland in an unprecedented execution for a theatrical advertiser, also negotiating a 24-hour themed takeover of the Roku Home Screen. 

We even whipped up an unprecedented on-air integration for our icon. We took over 18 minutes of The Bachelorette with a Barbie-themed group date, complete with Bachelors feeling the Kenergy in iconic Ken outfits, a talent intro by Simu Liu, a stylish custom Barbie Movie trailer, and so. much. social. posting. 

Finally, for the opening weekend we turned the world - and a whole lot of logos - pink, with takeovers across all Conde Nast and iHeart Media digital and social properties. We also achieved mass earned media via life-size Barbie Boxes, and brought them to theaters and malls anywhere, giving everybody a chance to step into (and post about) Barbie’s world.


Were you online this summer? Our contemporary spin on our plastic idol made her movie an unmissable cultural moment, with too many wins for 250 words. Hot-pink highlights only: 

★ The Barbie Movie’s success was truly a breakthrough, as it drove 2x consumer search interest vs. all 2021-2022 films! 

★ From the campaign’s beginning through to Opening Day, we saw an additional 55% in unaided awareness. 

★ Barbie’s takeover of Amazon scored over 2 BILLION impressions and the custom Alexa theme had 4.5M  interactions: the largest custom Alexa theme to date. 

★ Our Pinterest Virtual Dream Home became the largest Pin Extension ever, with engagement rates 18% over historical performance. 

★ Snap Users were obsessed with the lenses, racking up 4x the share rate of any other entertainment integration ever. 

★ Our Roku partnership scored 173M impressions across key audiences.

★ Our Bachelorette integration positively enchanted fans, surpassing other linear airings in search engagement by 60x. 

★ Those shimmering OOH boxes? Those became part of  ~*~the culture ~*~ as The Barbie Movie tallied the largest grossing domestic opening week in Warner Bros. history. 

With the help of our campaign, Barbie fans turn up and created a FOMO that made even the sceptics show up at the theater. $162M made Barbie queen of the Box Office with the biggest opening weekend of any film in 2023, and even becoming the first movie solo-directed by a woman to break the $1B Box Office Threshold. 

Life in plastic truly is fantastic!


Video for Barbie Breaks Out The Box (Office)

Entrant Company / Organization Name

Hearts & Science, Warner Bros.