“There Was A Sense Of Barbie On Every Corner” – B&T Chats With Universal’s Director Of Marketing Suzanne Stretton-Brown

“There Was A Sense Of Barbie On Every Corner” – B&T Chats With Universal’s Director Of Marketing Suzanne Stretton-Brown

After just a few moments of speaking with Universal ANZ’s director of marketing Suzanne Stretton-Brown, one thing is very clear: she loves her job.

For those of you not aware (where have you been!?), Stretton-Brown is the power house behind marketing last year’s juggernaut Barbie.   She chatted with B&T during our recent CMO Power List.

Barbie was the highest-grossing film of 2023 and the 14th-highest of all time, bringing in a cool $2.23 billion at the box office globally. Stretton-Brown spearheaded much of Barbie‘s success in Australia by leading its marketing efforts.

So what is the key to successful marketing movies? Stretton-Brown says its all about the art of breadcrumbing.

“The studio designed global bread crumb strategies. And it’s very strategic. It’s putting out small pieces of content and always adding something new and exciting but we never intentionally giving the plot away. Right up until the film was opening”.

Marketing For The Barbie Film

Whilst most of us were very familiar of the opening Barbie scene where Margot Robbie could be seen getting ready for her day, Stretton-Brown says even the team at Universal were in the dark about the plot.

“Even as the marketer, we didn’t have the full story until we sold the film. So it was one of those things where they wanted to build such anticipation. And that’s what happened. It really built that momentum anticipation”.

Another key ingredient to building Barbie mania was nostalgia marketing, Stretton-Brown continued.

“We were engaging generations of women who grew up with Barbie. And I think that that emotional engagement really translated in to the feedback that you saw.  We stayed very true to Barbie the brand – using her signature pink. We really harnessed that across every touchpoint of the campaign. The campaign was incredibly striking and had a very strong brand identity”.

The finally element was a number of high profile and carefully selected brand partnerships, she says.

“We had an incredible roster of partnerships and collaborations. And what happens when you bring on so many major partners.”

You can see B&T’s top 10 Barbie brand moments HERE. 

“We had the famous pink dream burger with Grill’d and we decked out their venues. We had NYX makeup and all these things tied up with major retailer as well. So we not only had the brand, and what they were doing with the marketing, we were also collaborating with retail. So that’s why there was a sense of Barbies on every corner”.

Stretton-Brown strongly advocates for OOH marketing, even so far as saying it was her favourite medium. Universal honed in on traditional formats, capturing the hearts and minds of fans and sparking unprecedented interest.

The way people took in these activations, sharing them far and wide on social media made the film so successful, said Stretton-Brown. “It was almost like we handed it over to the community, and they just ran with it.”


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