The Barbie Movie Release and the Power of Visual Storytelling

With content overload and fragmented attention spans, it can be hard to capture attention with your event, especially if you’re looking to make a lasting impact or gain traction online beyond the day. Visual storytelling – the art of conveying a message or narrative through images, design, and colors – can help you capture your audience’s attention and make a lasting impact that extends far beyond the event itself.

A VISUAL STORYTELLING MASTERCLASS: The Barbie Movie Promotional Campaign

Barbie dolls are iconic around the world, selling 300,000 their first year on the market and with more than 1 billion sold to date. In the lead up to Barbie the movie, released in July 2023, the film’s production team had the challenge of embodying Barbie’s visual story onscreen and in their promotions in order to get women (and men) around the world to ride the nostalgia train straight into theaters on opening weekend. They offered us a masterclass in visual storytelling.


The first rule when you’re telling Barbie’s visual story is to make it pink. And Barbie’s film production team took that to heart – depleting a company’s entire global supply of fluorescent pink paint in the process.

And more subdued colors weren’t ever an option. Director Greta Gerwig told the LA Times “I wanted the pinks to be very bright, and everything to be almost too much […] what made me love Barbie when I was a little girl.”


Barbie’s signature stance is a key part of her visual story – perfectly arched feet and pointed toes literally made to slip on gorgeous high heels. The short clip of actress Margot Robbie stepping out of pink feathery high heels featured in the movie’s trailer made audiences around the world gasp in recognition — a doll brought to life with perfect proportions in a perfectly pink world. It fueled an amazing amount of buzz for the film that didn’t go away until the premiere three months later.


The Barbie film launch is a masterclass in visual brand storytelling for a lot of reasons, but especially because it extended in all directions. The Barbie Selfie Generator is a genius component of this campaign, dropping a day after the film’s posters were released.

The posters showcased all of the Barbies and Kens, displaying the diverse and multifaceted cast that highlighted the films feminist lens and inclusivity while the plot was still shrouded in mystery.

Fans were invited to submit a selfie to the Barbie Selfie Generator to “become an instant icon.”

The AI-generator then transformed the photos into personalized versions of the film’s movie posters. Everyone then immediately shared their pictures on social media, of course, giving the upcoming film a huge boost with user generated content, while simultaneously reinforcing the message that you can be a Barbie and see yourself in Barbie without looking like Margot Robbie.


In anticipation of the Summer 2023 movie, more than 100 brands have launched collaborations with Barbie – all overflowing with pink, cheerful, girlish exuberance. Collaborations ranged from donuts to shoes to hair accessories. Guests were even able to stay in the Barbie Malibu Dream House.


The Barbie cast, along with star and producer Margot Robbie, embarked on an extensive global promo tour in the leadup to the film’s release. Robbie took movie character cosplay to the next level wearing high-end designer versions of Barbie outfits on the red carpet. A doll truly come to life – in couture. 


Brands and businesses worldwide are hopping on the Barbie trend – creating fun, iconic food and drinks in the Barbie style.

Thanks to Ripples, these coffee shops were able to offer their customers their own Barbie-branded drinks in seconds, and were able to be a part of the global buzz around the new movie.

The Barbie Movie Release and the Power of Visual Storytelling