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What B2B Marketers Can Learn from Barbie

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This article was submitted by Rival Contributor: Melody Callaway, Head of Marketing, Americas, Orange Business. If you have an idea you'd like to share, and are interested in the contributor programme, email us at media@wearerival.com.


Fantasized success and a seemingly endless marketing budget have made marketers around the world
envious of Barbie. Blonde hair, Malibu Ken, the dreamhouse and pink corvette – like Barbie, the ideas
were limitless and the marketing team behind the brand absolutely smashed it!
For most business-to-business (B2B) marketers on a cotton candy budget, the idea of having millions
upon millions to spend on collaborations, takeovers and immersive experiences is far from scope. Sure,
we’ve seen large investments at conferences, but after four days locked in a Vegas showroom floor, it’s
done, and the experience is forgotten, only to be outdone at next week’s event.
The 360-degree marketing approach by the Barbie marketers had me wondering, what have we
forgotten in our marketing toolkit that needs to be revived for success? So, I connected with my peers in
the marketing community and here’s what we uncovered.

1. I’m a Barbie Girl, in a Barbie World

Immersive experiences, pop-ups, installations – For Barbie
this happened globally during Warner Brother’s “Operation Barbie Summer” including Zara in
Paris, a Malibu Dreamhouse in California, and the 3D ad placed in front of Dubai’s Burj Khalifa.
“The reality is, if this had been done without flair and nostalgia, the campaign could have
backfired,” said Aimee Peters, Regional Head of Brand, Partnerships and Wholesale Marketing,
MENAT, HSBC.
For B2B it doesn’t have to be physical, it can be in the metaverse or a virtual event, take your
clients on an experience in your unique world. The key is to make it special, tailor it for your
client, understand their needs and how you can connect with them on an experiential level – a
moment for everyone to remember.


2. Imagination, life is your creation

Collaborations and partnerships galore – Warner Bros. and
Mattel did not keep the list short with an impressive list of 100+ partnerships, including Xbox,
Progressive, Beis Luggage, Pinkberry, Aldo Shoes and many more. Often we forget about the
partnership abilities and the weight that a partnership can take off the bottom line of your
marketing spend. Many organizations like Microsoft, Cisco and Amazon, have partnership
programs with plug and play marketing campaigns ready for the taking.
My advice here is to align with partners that make sense with your business, and also secure
connections to both new and existing clients. Don’t be afraid to build something new, exciting,
and different together.
“These opportunities can become cultural melting pots and allow entities with overlapping
participants to create new bonding moments,” said Tara Spalding, interim CEO, Kinect Capital.
We invest in building shared programs with other organizations because its more efficient and
further reaching.”

3. Come on Barbie, let’s go party

Build the hype train or ride the hype train – In the words of
Tom Goodwin, “Here’s what Marketers can learn from Barbie’s Marketing. 1. Start with 99%
brand awareness, 2. Do whatever you want.”
But there is opportunity here, just like with this article. Call it what you want, ambulance
chasing, headline hounding – there is something to be said about following trends, competitors,
and providing valuable insight about your area of expertise. Work directly with your PR agency
or team to identify topics that you can speak to and react to quickly. When the news hits, jump
on the phone or give your firm 2-3 bullet points to work with that will drive conversation.
“A PR pre-emptive strike,” is what Veronica Kido, President of Kido Communications, a boutique
PR firm, calls it. “This surprise attack tactic is especially effective for getting your brand
mentioned in a competitor’s news story. What a competitor intended as a story focused only on
them, now turns into an industry article with your brand providing a valuable point of view.”

4. I can act like a star

Select spokespeople to represent your brand – Greta Gerwig and Margot
Robbie have been the perfect match to bring Barbie to life. As a business, it’s equally important
to identify and elevate subject matter experts that represent and elevate your brand. Spend
time media training them, coaching them and giving your spokespeople the tools to succeed.
Don’t forget to pursue all avenues and types of spokespeople that align with your campaign
goals and objectives – celebrities, social influencers, in-house experts, leadership, young rising
professionals, etc.
“Engaging influencers to amplify your spokesperson’s messages increases awareness and
generates greater visibility for your brand,” adds Kido. “Influencer PR opportunities can take the
shape of social media posts, podcasts, speaking at partner or industry events, webinars, fireside
chats, and inclusion in books and blogs.”


5. Life in plastic, it’s fantastic

Enable customers to live, feel and be your brand. An article in
Adweek said it best, “give your consumers the spotlight.” Give your clients the opportunity to be
part of your brand and make it easy to share with others, create interactive campaigns and build
success stories together.
“Showcasing how your client is benefitting from your product or service really is the best way to
toot your own horn,” said Fran Kelly, marketing director for Aspirent, a data and analytics
consulting firm. “But you really need to think beyond the standard ‘challenge-solution-results’
case study and strive for an emotional connection with your audience,” she adds. Her suggestion: Forego the executive talking head video for a documentary-style piece that focuses on the impact your solution is having on the company and/or its own customers.

Admittedly, I saw Oppenheimer first, and waited for Barbie in week two. But, I didn’t write an article on
Oppenheimer. And there is a reason, Barbie is not one-size fits all or targeting just one audience, she
reminds us that she can be anything and do anything. Charlie Edwards of Cavendish Consulting said this
in her article in the Drum, “She was created for the opposite; to show us our own limitless potential.”


As marketers, we have the power to be limitless in our ideas and stretch our creativity to make great
programs and campaigns that influence our clients, customers and the bottom line.

This article was submitted by Rival Contributor: Melody Callaway, Head of Marketing, Americas, Orange Business. If you have an idea you'd like to share, and are interested in the contributor programme, email us at media@wearerival.com.

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