Articles of Association: Franchise marketing at its finest

Continuing the new regular column from Licensing International, Steve Manners discusses how ‘all the stars aligned’ for the Barbie movie before looking ahead to Brand Licensing Europe.

Unless you’ve been living under a (pink) rock for the past few weeks, you can’t have failed to notice the Barbie-fication of the world. And if the opening weekend box office is anything to go by, the new live action Barbie movie is really bringing the ‘Ken-ergy’. The film brought in $337 million globally, including $162 million in the US and $22.9 million in the UK, making Barbie the biggest opening of the year.

Having worked on consumer products for many blockbuster movies over the years (and some that have been less-than-blockbuster), I can say that what Mattel and Warner Bros. Discovery have achieved together is a master class in execution.

From the initial teaser trailer – which parodied the classic film 2001: A Space Odyssey – it was apparent that the movie was going to be different than what many expected. To bring a theatrical marketing and consumer products programme to life in such a fun, relevant, unexpected and inventive way is not easy, and, to my mind, Barbie has to be one of the finest examples of franchise marketing.

Barbie500x500All the stars seemed to align, including a fantastic director and writer in Greta Gerwig (co-writing with her partner Noah Baumbach); a brand owner willing to take risks in Mattel; and highly engaged talent, including star and producer Margot Robbie (her appearances in replicas of classic Barbie outfits on various red carpets were stunning). And, perhaps most importantly, an imaginative, inclusive and joyous marketing campaign with over 100 movie-based licensees and outstanding brand collaborations. It’s worth checking some of them out, including Impala inline skates, Balmain’s shoulder bag, Airbnb’s Malibu Dreamhouse, and collections from Primark and Zara. Mattel and WB should be congratulated.

As Licensing International’s upcoming 2023 Global Licensing Industry Study will show, while entertainment licensing is still the single biggest sector in revenue, the type of properties has shifted due to the ongoing challenges with theatrical releases. Barbie’s complete cultural takeover is a testament to Mattel’s consumer products team – they created a thoughtful and well-executed licensing strategy that I’m convinced will elevate Barbie consumer products for a long time to come.

Here at Licensing International, we’re heavily into planning for BLE. We’ll be back on stand C240, and members have use of the stand for meetings – two 30-minute slots per day. Keep an eye out for communications from Brand Licensing Europe for details on all the activity during the show and do remember that for this year only the show runs from Wednesday 4 October to Friday 6 October, due to NY Toy Fair’s date change to the end of September.

And this year, Licensing International’s Opening Night Party on Wednesday 4 October at 100 Wardour Street promises to be a fantastic event – great food, drinks, entertainment and, of course, networking with industry friends and colleagues. It’s a short five-stop ride on the Elizabeth Line to Tottenham Court Road, then a five-minute walk to the venue. We’ll be opening the booking platform very shortly, but if you want to find out more about tickets or sponsorship opportunities, please don’t hesitate to get in touch with me.

Steve Manners is head of global marketing and UK managing director at Licensing International.

Founded in 1985, more than 1,500 Licensing International member companies in over 40 countries enjoy access to an array of benefits, including extensive educational programming and worldwide networking events.

Visit www.LicensingInternational.org for more information.

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