The “Barbie” movie paints Mattel’s sales pink…and Zara and Primark are jumping on the bandwagon

Barbie moves to Hollywood. The iconic Mattel doll is making a leap onto the big screen—the first in its 64-year history—in an effort to refresh its image and reconnect, in Margot Robbie’s shoes, with its nostalgic audience. A California company’s bet is to wake up pink fever, which will restore the popularity of the Ruth Handler doll and revitalize its economic prospects. Mattel’s accounts already closed out 2022 with mediocre results, exacerbated by a poor start to 2023, with sales down 22% at the end of the year’s first quarter. And although during the pandemic the company experienced a rebound in sales, the effect was short-lived and it was stuck in the red for many years with an increasingly outdated image. Now, with the interest generated by the new film, companies of all kinds have joined the wave, starting with fashion giants like Zara or Primark.

the film Barbie It’s only the first step in a strategy promoted since 2018 by Yinon Kreiz, the company’s CEO, who saw potential in the intellectual property of Mattel games to develop a cinematic universe in the style of Marvel, another franchise that before its recent jump into cinema also faced serious problems with revenue statements and brand image. With the debut of Barbie, Chris is looking for more than just selling the dolls: Its success will be a boost for the Israeli-American entrepreneur and his vision to bring 14 more films to theaters will revive other Mattel properties like Masters of the universe y hot Wheels, The latter is believed to be a JJ Abrams action movie.

But Chris’ dream could make or break after the movie’s premiere, this Thursday in Spain and this Friday in the US. In fact, the cinematic advantage in Mattel’s sales recovery plan also responds to another factor: The studios fund the movies, so the financial disadvantages of their strategy are modest for the American company’s calculations and the advantages – if they paint the world pink – are unlimited. In case BarbieDirected by Greta Gerwig, most of the $100 million budget was covered by Warner Bros. production cost, which stars famous stars like Margot Robbie herself, Ryan Gosling, Will Ferrel, America Ferrera, and Dua Lipa.

Analysts are bullish on Mattel. Anticipation went around the movie growing up In the past year, many behind-the-scenes photos have been leaked on social networks, such as photos of Robbie and Gosling in the characters of Barbie and Ken, while they are surfing on a beach in California in June 2022. To this was added a campaign of marketing The liturgy in which the screens and streets were painted pink awakened a Barbiemania between generations on a global scale. It is projected to gross an opening weekend of between $90 million and $100 million at the US box office alone. This is evidenced by data from the American investment bank Stifel, whose estimates raise the global group to $ 550 million (about 491 million euros) in the first days of the projection.

The box office success would be the tip of the iceberg for Mattel’s comeback. The film led to Mattel giving a hundred licenses to the Barbie character for use by fashion brands, hosting companies, and a host of platforms wanting credit for pink fever. In Spain, Zara – the flagship of Inditex – has launched a section dedicated to Barbie in its stores in A Coruña and two stores pop up In new york and paris with a collection of american aesthetic pink apparel and CowboysWhich includes boys and girls clothes. Primark also joined the fever Barbicure. Store giant low cost She launched a new collection that includes everything from pajamas, swimwear, dresses and accessories to home and beauty essentials. All in pink as the protagonist.

In the tourism sector, Airbnb has offered the opportunity to sleep in the legendary Barbie Malibu dream house. The first appointment is scheduled for the 23rd of October at a cost of 60€ per night. But to celebrate the film’s release, the platform has once again listed the seafront mansion on the nights of July 21st and 22nd, this time completely free of charge.

These are some of the collaborations that Mattel closed without even releasing the movie. Other big companies have joined this list, such as Forever21, GAP, Microsoft, Ulta Beauty, Chevrolet, NYX COSMETICS, Aldo, and Ruggable. It’s even signed a partnership with rival Hasbro to publish Monopoly Barbie this fall, and in turn, Mattel will produce a Transformers version of the Uno card game.

Crown jewel

In any case, Mattel expects the box office success to be reflected in an immediate increase in sales of Barbie, the jewel in the US manufacturer’s crown, generating about a third of its $5,000 million (€4,480 million) annual sales. According to market research firm Euromonitor International, it is estimated that the Barbie movie fever will increase the doll industry’s turnover to $14,000 million (about 12,500 million euros) by 2027. Specifically, the consultancy predicts that Gerwig’s production will boost sales of Barbie and accessories by 16% in 2026, compared to revenue recorded in 2022.

“After a dismal 2022, in which doll sales were negatively affected by price hikes amid economic uncertainty, Mattel is preparing to welcome 2023 as a result of the Barbie movie halo, the relaunch of Monster High dolls, new Disney Princesses and Frozen dolls,” said Lu Wei Teck, Head of Toys and Games at Euromonitor International.

Barbie is currently one of Mattel’s three biggest assets, along with Hot Wheels and Fisher-Price. Although in the income statement for the first quarter of 2023, only the toy car brand registered growth. For its part, total global sales of Barbie fell 41% to $176.9 million (€158.7 million).

But the iconic Mattel doll’s struggle to maintain its popularity has been a constant in the past two decades, as it hasn’t always been able to adapt its prototype to the current age. When Ruth Handler first introduced Barbie at the US International Toy Fair in 1959, she was met with a wall of disbelievers who claimed that the doll was too sexual (because of her prominent breasts) and that girls were only interested in dolls because they helped them pretend to be mothers. Subsequently, Handler refuted that girls wanted to be more than mothers and that in Barbie, specifically, they would find this inspiration for everything they could become: doctors, lawyers, veterinarians … In addition, she emphasized that the shape of the doll’s body would allow them to see themselves as adults.

Ruth Handler, along with her godfather, Noah Baumbach.
Ruth Handler and her husband, Noah Baumbach.Getty Images

And for nearly four decades, this sales plan has succeeded, in the midst of a context in which women have struggled to break free the current situation in the professional field. To accommodate, Mattel created new models with broader occupations, such as astronaut Barbie. But soon the public was asking for more than just new jobs. The girls wanted to see themselves truly represented in the doll, which kept their skin tone unchanged and their body measurements to an almost unattainable level. They demanded new skin colors and new body shapes. The brand started to lose ground and between 2012 and 2015 its reported income decreased each year. By 2015, its sales had fallen to half of their peak in 1997, when it reached $1.8 billion.

It wasn’t until 2016 when the company backtracked and launched Barbies with different skin tones onto the market. Sales rose after that, although not enough to reverse the decline of Mattel, which in the same year lost the first position as the largest toy company in the world in terms of market value to its competitor Hasbro.

We were not communicating with the culture. We weren’t even a reflection of what pop culture was,” says Richard Dixon, Mattel’s president and chief operating officer. “The girls would look at us and say, ‘You’re irrelevant.’”

Ynoz Kreiz named CEO of Mattel – after an offer from executives who didn’t fit in with the company and Various scandals involving infant deaths– Sync up with a Barbie milestone: After nearly 60 years, the doll has stopped arching her feet and dropped off her heels. Also, the line now has four body types and seven skin tones; Other inclusive designs have been added, such as Barbie with hearing aids and Down syndrome. These changes accounted for a modest increase in sales, driven by good parental reception of the updates. New generations were able to see themselves represented in the dolls and, by the way, asked for their new accessories, such as a car for $30 and a Barbie Malibu house for $200.

Confinement due to the Covid-19 pandemic has accelerated the sales recoveryBut after easing restrictions and the global impact on the economy from the war in Ukraine – already adding to the economic fatigue caused by the coronavirus crisis – the boom soon stalled. Anticipation surrounding the movie’s release has sent the stock up 18% year-to-date, but currently, its titles are about 40% less expensive than they were in 2016, when Mattel released the first version of its dolls.

At the beginning of last year, the market value of Mattel stock was $9 billion, more than double what it was when Kreese joined the company. However, its capitalization has been reduced to $7,000 million, and while the forecast coincides with a rebound in sales in response to the film’s release, it won’t be immediate. Through at least 2023, analysts expect Barbie sales to remain flat.

Barbie They are Kreese’s main and final assets for the Rose Empire Revival; A bet in which Mattel is immersed in a satire that criticizes the company’s mistakes and the stubbornness of previous managers to limit Barbie’s changes, captive to a sexist and exclusive world that seemed each time less and less like the real one. Now, from the big screen, Margot Robbie embodies the claim of the company, which seeks to reconnect with adult children who have grown up playing Barbie and Ken so that they themselves can introduce the following generations to Barbiemania.

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