Marketing Tricks



A branding expert explains how the controversial doll has gone from teenage reject to movie star.

Rejected by the toy industry at first, Barbie is now one of America’s most trusted brands. “She” – the 11.5 inch blonde doll, but also her brand persona – generated worldwide sales of around $1.5 billion (1.3 billion pounds) in 2022, and has a brand value of $590 million.

Barbie debuted on March 9, 1959, at the New York International Toy Fair as Barbie Teenage Fashion Model. Sixty-four years later, the doll continues to be the subject of cultural, sociological and psychological interest. By creating an iconic brand with special meaning for fans of all ages (Barbie is marketed to children aged three and older), toy company Mattel has successfully extended the lifecycle of the Barbie brand for well over half a century.

Barbie is also a polarising figure. The brand embodies the notion of a “double bind”, celebrated as an inspirational role model while at the same time blamed for creating unrealistic expectations of women, particularly when it comes to how they should look.

But while most toys remain popular for only two or three years, Barbie’s long-term success reflects Mattel’s responsiveness and adaptability to the changing cultural and political discourse in society and around this doll. So how has the company done it?

Credit: Victoria Borodinova/publicdomainpictures

A Barbie world

Research shows there are many ways to build and sustain brand characters, but Mattel has used a “multiply” strategy for Barbie. This has involved introducing other characters that play supporting roles in Barbie’s “world”.

Over the years, these supporting acts were introduced to portray Barbie’s relationship with friends and family. First there was Ken (1961), Barbie’s boyfriend, then her younger sister Skipper (1964), followed by friends including Midge (1963) and Christie (1968), the first black Barbie character.

The storylines and individual characteristics of these additional characters connect to Barbie’s persona and increase brand visibility. Mattel has also used storytelling tactics such as announcing that Barbie and Ken had officially broken up on Valentine’s Day in 2004 (they got back together in 2011). Such stories resonate with fans’ emotions, sustaining interest in the brand.

These tactics typically work for a while, but how has Mattel sustained true brand longevity for this long? There are many strategies designed to revitalise mature brands. Mattel successfully extended Barbie’s brand to capture new audiences, drive growth and expand into new types of products beyond dolls.

This is a risky endeavour if the brand is stretched too far. But Barbie’s brand has been successfully extended into other profitable categories such as clothes, accessories, cosmetics and entertainment (music, movies and games). And now, after several computer-animated, direct-to-video and streaming television films, Barbie’s first big budget, live action movie will be released in cinemas in July.

Early reports suggest the movie – helmed by Oscar-nominee Greta Gerwig, who also directed Little Women (2019) and Lady Bird (2017) – is likely to be rated PG-13. This is not the “universal” rating you might expect for a film about a popular toy. It hints at another strand of Mattel’s successful Barbie branding strategy: nostalgia.

Life in plastic

Alongside ongoing efforts to appeal to young girls, Mattel also deliberately targets older consumers. Specific objects – not just toys but clothes, food such as sweets, or even items like vinyl records – can give a physical form to a set of attitudes, relationships and circumstances for people. This evokes a powerful sense of the past.

This kind of nostalgia generates trust and positive attitudes towards a brand, influencing consumer preferences when it comes to choosing between toys.

In addition to the upcoming film, Mattel has attempted to capitalise on the nostalgia Barbie evokes in other ways. It sells more sophisticated designer and limited edition lines of collectible dolls aimed at adult fans, for example. These items are typically sold in speciality or boutique stores, and carry higher price tags than the average doll.

Designer Charlotte Johnson with a 1965 doll. Credit: Nelson Tiffany, Los Angeles Times/Wikimedia Commons

Criticism of Barbie

As Barbie’s brand has expanded and evolved, the doll has also encountered criticism. Over the years, Barbie went through many transformations to look more confident, and was marketed as having many life options, particularly when it comes to work. There are now Barbie dolls representing more than 200 careers – from astronaut, surgeon, paratrooper, game developer, architect and entrepreneur to film director and even US president.

But critics have argued that these career dolls are a “misfire attempt at inspiring girls”. This negative perception of the brand’s moral vision is linked to the notion that Barbie is rooted in an ideal of femininity that still characterises women by their physical appearance.

Barbie has been accused of promoting unrealistic body standards, stereotyping and objectification of women, as well as having a negative influence on girls’ self-esteem and body image.

So, faced with declining sales and competition from smaller brands offering dolls with more realistic body types (such as Lottie and Lammily), Mattel launched “Project Dawn” in 2016. This included the launch of Fashionistas, a line of Barbie dolls with different body types (curvy, petite and tall) and abilities, skin tones and eye colours, as well as hairstyles and outfits.

But research suggested that young girls aged between three and ten prefered the original tall and petite dolls. They were negative about “curvy” Barbie, and this doll also received intense public scrutiny.

In 2017, Mattel took another significant step by introducing ethnically and racially diverse dolls of different nationalities, including the first hijab-wearing Barbie doll. However, this approach prompted criticism that Mattel was treating race and ethnic differences as “collectible”, and commodifying culture.

Despite this, Barbie continues to be a toy that many children play with. The longevity and iconic status of the doll is a tribute to Mattel’s astute marketing and reinvention efforts. These have helped the brand remain relevant even now, 64 years after it was launched.

Sameer Hosany is Professor of Marketing, Royal Holloway University of London.

This article first appeared on The Conversation.

Feature Image Credit: Carlos Garcia Rawlins/Reuters 


Sourced from Scroll.in

Photographers understand that marketing is essential to attracting new clients and growing their business. However, marketing strategies are constantly evolving, so what worked in the past isn’t always going to work in the present or future. In this article, we will share three photography marketing tricks and hacks that actually work based on our 12-plus years of experience operating a successful multi-shooter studio!

The list of marketing strategies for photographers is extensive and includes topics like social media (Instagram, short-form video for TikTok and IG Reels, Pinterest, etc.), paid advertising (Google ads, Facebook ads, etc.), SEO (search engine optimization), conventions and bridal shows, online directories, and more. In this article, we’ll focus primarily on referral marketing and save the other topics for subsequent articles.

Note: This education is directly from our free one-hour masterclass called “3 Steps to $100K More.” If you’re interested in learning more about amplifying your business with more leads, more revenue per client, and higher sales conversions, we encourage you to register here.

1. Make Viral Sharing Effortless

With any shoot, deliver teaser images the same day to the clients and the other vendors involved in the shoot, along with clear permissions, instructions, and even tips to make sharing more likely and more impactful.

Most photographers share images with the vendors and clients after they’ve culled and processed all of their images, which can be weeks or even months after the shoot. But by then, much of the hype and interest has cooled off. Sharing the same day or within a few days multiplies the distribution of the images and turns each person involved in the shoot into a marketing engine for your brand. This works for almost every type of shoot, from wedding, to family, to event photography.

Action Steps for Image Sharing

To implement this strategy, follow these steps:

  1. Rate your best images throughout the shoot.
  2. Using Lightroom Mobile and Lightroom Presets, edit a set of teaser images from your “starred” images during a break or shortly after the shoot.
  3. Send the images over to the clients and the other vendors from the shoot, such as the stylist, florist, designer, event planner, the venue/location manager, and more.
  4. Along with the images, include clear permissions for them to use the images on their own social media, asking them to tag you when they share or link to you if they use it on their website. (More on SEO in the masterclass).
  5. You might even go a step further and provide full shoot/vendor credits, sample captions, or event tips for the best ways to post. These can streamline the process and help you maximize your visibility.

2. Create Same-Day Slideshows

If you’re photographing an event, such as a wedding, Bar Mitzvah or other party, then a same day slideshow is one of the best marketing hacks to help you get more referral business.

At the event, show 20-30 of your favourite images from earlier moments of the same event with an iPad, laptop, or even projected onto a display (if the DJ can do this). Next to the presentation, place some of your business cards. Of course, get approval from the client and event coordinator prior to doing this. With a great set of images, this simple strategy can supercharge your referral business.

Think about this. Every event you photograph is filled with guests in the same life stage, age range, and target audience as the actual client. The problem is that most photographers never end up getting their work in front of these people because by the time the images are delivered and shared, often weeks later, very few people see them. To solve this problem, we started showing same day slideshows.

Every same day slideshow we create generates at least two to three additional clients that are sold and ready to book! It’s literally one of the best marketing tools, and it’s also a rock star move that makes the clients ecstatic when they see the images. Create buzz at every event you photograph!

Action Steps for Same Day Slideshows

The process is similar to the teasers mentioned above.

  • During the event, star your favourite images on your camera.
  • Once you have a moment of downtime, transfer those favourites to your phone via your camera’s Bluetooth/wireless app.
  • From there, load them into Lightroom Mobile, and add a quick pre-set. For all of our work, we use Visual Flow Presets.
  • Then, with the images in Lightroom, just click the slideshow icon.
  • If possible, send the images to a DJ to display on the projector.
  • When streamlined, the process can take as little as 15-30 minutes from start to finish. On a busy day, if available, have an assistant work through the process.

3. Use Styled Shoots and Giveaways

Next, let’s talk about collaborative styled shoots. In between your paid jobs, put together a list of your favourite vendors for a styled shoot concept. These vendors are other businesses that match your ideal target audience in terms of location, demographics, age, etc. They need imagery, and you need a network, so it’s a win-win situation!

The styled shoot concept can be a chance to play and create images for you and your vendor team rather than doing what clients want. Nothing new so far, right? But here’s the hack. Instead of models, find real-life “models” with a social media giveaway. How you run the giveaway is entirely up to you, but just check with the social media platform’s terms and conditions. Use this as an opportunity to grow your social media presence and engagement. And by using actual real-life models, you have a great chance of converting the entrants or even the selected models into real-life clients.

Action Steps for Collaborative Styled Shoots

  1. Come up with an interesting concept to pitch to a group of vendors (makeup artists, florists, venues, designers, planners, etc.).
  2. Pitch the concept and gather your team! Be very clear on the expectations and timing.
  3. Determine the entry rules and methods. You can use a third-party giveaway plugin like Gleam.io or just stick to something simple, like using the native tagging and commenting systems of each platform.
  4. Create a marketing image for each vendor to share. This is super easy using consumer design software like Canva.
  5. Require all of the collaborative vendors to announce the contest on their social media accounts at the same date and time.
  6. Select the winner and execute the shoot!

Benefits and Results

Do this right, and let’s talk about all the things you’ll get:

  • Tighten up vendor relationships.
  • Provide 50+ awesome final images that could be used for websites, portfolios, etc.
  • Create content for the blog and for multiple SEO-based articles, which we’ll discuss in other articles.
  • Provide 50+ images for social media that can be published over time as you see fit.
  • Practice new techniques and create new conceptual work.
  • Grow your social media accounts.
  • Get more referrals from the vendors involved in the styled shoot.
  • Convert the entrants and winners into clients.

As you can see, collaborative styled shoots are one of the best ways to check every box through a single shoot!


Even though marketing and technology changes constantly, referral marketing will always be one of the best (and easiest) ways to convert and grow your business! We hope these three articles and the action steps listed above will help you do just that!

In future articles, we’ll review more marketing hacks, tips and secrets such as SEO, short-form viral marketing, directories, and more. If you’re interested in more information, please see our full one-hour free masterclass on ways to add $100K more to your photography business.

Sourced from fStoppers