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Barbie's press tour is a mega marketing campaign

"It’s Barbie’s world and we’re just living in it"

Barbie's press tour is a mega marketing campaign It’s Barbie’s world and we’re just living in it

"If you love Barbie, this movie is for you. If you hate Barbie, this movie is for you. If you feel indifferent about Barbie or haven’t thought about Barbie in years, this movie is also for you." Margot Robbie announced this in the first Barbie trailer, reiterating what now seems undeniable even before the film hits cinemas on 21 July (20 July in Italy): live-action Barbie is the event of 2023. And not only because of the actual content of the project, which Greta Gerwig is directing and co-writing and which, despite previews and rumours, has not yet been fully revealed, but thanks to an unprecedented media build-up developed ad hoc to fuel the hype.

It was clear from the start that the collaborations, the viral images, the clips from the film that have become memes, the statements from the cast and the looks of the promotional tour have a much bigger goal than promoting a film: to transform Barbie from a tired brand into a modern icon for the social media age. It is a complete re-branding based on an intricate web of brand connections and capsule collections that ensure the most famous doll of all time can penetrate every area of our lives, from fashion to beauty, from holidays to food, in a way that even the most sought-after influencers would never dream of. "Our goal for this summer and this year is for Barbie to be everywhere and ubiquitous," said Lisa McKnight, global head of Mattel's Barbie and doll portfolio. So here comes the Malibu Dreamhouse on Airbnb, hair accessories, clothes, toothbrushes, roller skates, rugs, cans of lemonade and a list of other products that seems to grow longer every day. All the possible and imaginable MerchTainment, the necessities for a life in plastic, is not aimed at children (as one would logically expect from a toy), but at Millennials who grew up moving their dolls, now forgotten in some box in their parents' house, and at a new wave of Gen Z fans who are discovering the wonderful and truly pink Barbie world on TikTok and Instagram.

Mattel's marketing strategy is working perfectly. So forget Chiara Ferragni or Eva Chen, the most powerful influencer of the moment is Barbie. And that's largely thanks to Margot Robbie, who continued to embody her role during the press tour, transforming herself into a real, live doll and method acting even beyond the filming. Just as costume designer Jacqueline Durran drew on the golden age of Barbie (the 1980s and 1990s) for the film's outfits, bringing a highly Instagram-able pop aesthetic to the screen with stretch minidresses, fluffy skirts, off-the-shoulder and sweetheart handbags, heeled mules, neon colours and a shower of pink, fashion stylist Andrew Mukamal chose to echo the same sentiment for the press tour looks. But he was, if possible, even more detail-oriented, almost didactic, having Margot Robbie take on the role of a different iconic Barbie at each stop.

Indeed, it is not uncommon for celebrities to pay red carpet tribute to the project they are promoting. That's what happened with Halle Bailey with her ocean-inspired outfits that evoked the world of The Little Mermaid, or Jenna Ortega with her gothic- glam Wednesday Addams outfits, but the Mukamal-Robbie pair took it a step further, resulting in a move that could almost be described as philological. Together, they commemorated Mattel's 1959 original with a black and white striped bodycon dress by Hervé Legér; chose a skirt suit by Moschino in homage to Barbie Sparkling Pink from 1964 and two tailored looks by Versace for Barbie Day to Night from 1985; they embodied Barbie Earring Magic with a Balmain signature hexamble and Barbie Totally Hair with an Emilio Pucci mini dress. From pink Valentino polka dots to Prada plaid sets, from Chanel creations to Schiaparelli's archives, Robbie has mixed new, vintage and bespoke pieces to bring different Barbies to life and with them the eras they belong to.

Few TV interviews and no Late Night Show, which in recent years have become the perfect opportunity to comment on the bond between a celebrity and a brand or for viral looks, the press tour images are enough to make Margot-Barbie two contemporary It girls who are almost inseparable. "We always think about the risks we have to take. We want to make a difference and create iconic moments that people remember and are drawn to," Mukamal once told Vogue when talking about her longtime collaboration with Zoë Kravitz. She could have used the same words to describe the approach she is taking with Robbie in support of the Greta Gerwig-directed film. Each new stage brings a new look, a legendary Barbie, an avalanche of images flooding our social feeds, and often a trend. Barbiecorethe 1950s-inspired retro ponytail by hairstylist Bryce Scarlett, the bubblegum lips or the Barbie Glow Blush worked out by make-up artist Pati Dubroff - behind every appearance of the actress is a veritable war machine, a team pulling together with the sole aim of transforming the Mattel doll and her actress into two fashion icons who still have a lot to say and copy. Looking at the media impact of the press tour, it seems that both goals were achieved. Margot's appearances as Barbie dispelled the belief that the star could not pull off her red carpet looks. A few months ago, stylist Elliot Garnaut called Robbie the "worst dressed" celebrity in Hollywood, adding that someone at Chanel (a brand she works for as a testimonial) "obviously hates her" Now there are many who have changed their minds, proving that it's not the brand that matters, just the right outfit that makes the magic. Credit to Mukamal or Barbie's Power Pink?