Digital Branding

Barbie Living in a Generative AI World

Written by
Sarang Paraskar
Barbie Living in a Generative AI World

The success of Barbie The Movie’s marketing campaign spotlights the potential impact of generative AI-driven marketing. The generative AI market is projected to reach a staggering $1.3 trillion by 2032, comprising an estimated 12.5% of the total global tech spend within the next decade. In this article, I’d like to share my thoughts on why investing in an AI enabled digital tool on a user’s phone proved to be more valuable real estate for Mattel than a Barbie themed beach house in Malibu.

The marketing campaign for the Barbie movie has been a remarkable showcase of ingenuity and omnipresence in the advertising world. It's safe to say that Barbie has taken over the digital landscape, with her presence spanning from Google Search to the first-of-its-kind in-app ticket purchasing feature on Roku Inc. This ubiquity is truly la vie en rose for Barbie.

Barbie Effect on Google for Search Terms "Barbie" "Barbie Movie". "Greta Gerwig", "Margot Robbie" and "Ryan Gosling"

Roku’s home screen

Barbie's diverse range of hobbies, interests, and careers made collaborations with various brands not only easy but also highly effective and nuanced. Over 100 brand collaborations, including big names like Crocs, Bumble, Burger King, Xbox, Architectural Digest, and Airbnb, have been leveraged by Mattel, Inc., Barbie's parent company. Data from Muck Rack highlights the campaign's massive success, with over half a million articles written about Barbie since January and a staggering 86,000 articles published in June alone, showcasing Barbie's pervasive presence in the media landscape.

But the true star of Mattel's campaign was the AI Barbie Selfie Generator. When the website was launched a few months ago, it allowed users to create personalized versions of the movie's poster.

Barbie Movie Poster

This interactive element quickly went viral, embraced by internet users who created numerous ‘meme-ified’ versions of the Barbie poster tied to recent pop culture moments.

Created on Barbie AI Selfie Generator

The brilliance of the campaign lies in its accessibility, simplicity, and personalization - cutting through internet noise and capturing consumers' attention amidst the daily barrage of content and ads. By seamlessly weaving the Barbie brand into the social media experience, Barbie The Movie captured a significant Share of Life®. In today's world, social media is an integral part of our daily lives, extending beyond mere communication with friends. It has transformed into a bustling hub for content creation, where everyone becomes a content creator in their own right. This campaign recognized the potential in that human truth and entangled with customers by empowering them with an interactive tool to fuel their creative expression.

At Vertic (Powered by Globant), we conducted a digital insights assessment on Search and Social to get an outside-in perspective on the audience's reaction to these marketing efforts. The assessment revealed that the Barbie Selfie Generator outperformed other movie marketing initiatives. It’s no surprise that investing in a digital tool on the users' phones proved to be more valuable real estate for Mattel than a Barbie themed beach house in Malibu.

Source: Digital Insights by Vertic (Powered by Globant)

The transformational impact of Generative-AI

The success of Barbie's campaign underscores the potential impact of AI-driven marketing in the ever-expanding digital advertising market, which is valued at approximately $670 billion and constitutes over 66% of the total global ads market. Brands are increasingly turning to AI to create compelling and relevant content for their target audiences, harnessing the power of AI algorithms to analyze consumer behavior, preferences, and trends.

According to Bloomberg, the generative AI market is projected to reach a staggering $1.3 trillion by 2032, comprising an estimated 12.5% of the total global tech spend within the next decade.

Source: Bloomberg

AI-assisted digital ad businesses, leveraging AI algorithms, are also expected to contribute $192 billion annually to the global ad market by 2032, transforming advertising practices.

Startups like Treat and Shopify's "Shopify Magic" exemplify the transformative potential of generative AI in advertising. Treat caters to CPG brands by creating visually captivating and conversion-focused creative assets, while "Shopify Magic" enables brands to effortlessly generate product descriptions, saving valuable time and effort for marketers.

AI generated ads created using Treat

Generative AI not only streamlines creative processes but also optimizes advertising performance. Ads produced with the aid of generative AI experience an average of 35% higher click-through rates and 20% higher conversion rates (Optimizely) compared to traditional ad creatives. Brands embracing generative AI have reported substantial cost savings, reducing creative production costs by up to 40%.

In a post app tracking transparency world, where privacy changes have disrupted direct response advertising, generative AI provides marketers with a lifeline to navigate the evolving landscape successfully. Personalized digital experiences based on individual preferences enhance user experience, drive higher engagement, and improve return on ad spend.

Netflix harnesses machine learning to create multiple ‘high-probability click-through image thumbnails’. These variations undergo continuous A/B testing across their entire user base, personalized for each user “persona” and movie. The goal is to increase the likelihood of users clicking and watching the content.

Earlier this month, Adweek published an article on rebrands and PepsiCo was on that list.

Source: AdWeek

This reminded of the time when a document detailing the 2008 logo design appeared on Reddit, Inc.. You might have forgotten, but the internet certainly has not.

According to CBS News, Pepsi paid their brand agency $1 million for the new logo! This has me wondering, can Generative AI streamline this process? I don’t see a text-to-image AI algorithm replacing creatives or the work of a brand agency, but rather enhancing their workflow. It would offer creatives an important tool to produce better and faster work. It would be up to brand agencies to learn how to leverage these tools to accelerate their workflow and empower creative talent.

It's not just the big brands, the potential for generative AI to benefit smaller brands is immense and one to take note of. AI-powered solutions will democratize advertising, allowing smaller businesses to compete more effectively on a global scale by delivering precisely targeted ads tailored to specific customer segments, at a lower production cost. Afterall, not every brand will have the marketing spend of Mattel and Warner Bros.

As marketing and AI continue to converge, generative AI promises to be one of the most intriguing areas in this new age of AI. It's likely that a significant portion of product images, banner ads, and even YouTube pre-roll ads will be generated by AI by 2025, revolutionizing the advertising industry and redefining marketing practices.

Next Steps

Beyond creative production and optimizations, I think the next big step would be for digital marketers to map out the role of AI across a customer journey from acquisition to evaluation to customer experience post purchase. The possibilities for AI to enhance the customer journey are boundless, and the digital marketing landscape is set to evolve even further in the coming years.

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