2019, a year that brought with it many notable anniversaries, to list a few: 30 years since the Game Boy, 40 years since the Trivial Pursuit board game and 50 years since Sesame Street first aired on TV.

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But perhaps more significant than all of these examples, 2019 marks the 60th anniversary of Barbie, the doll that shaped the childhoods of generations of children in the United States and across the world.

For those who may be unaware, Barbie is a fashion doll designed and produced by the American toy company Mattel. Credited to Ruth Handler Barbie was an instant success and within a matter of years, every home with young children had a barbie doll. Selling well over 1 billion dolls in 60 years Barbie has entered the homes and hearts of so many people.

What is perhaps so much more interesting about Barbie is that it takes its inspiration from a German doll of a similar design Bild Lilli who, whilst having some comparatively minor national success in Germany, only lasted for 9 years. The main difference between the two dolls was their marketing backing. Barbie had a far superior marketing strategy which eventually lead to Barbie’s global success.

The Hilton campaign


One example of the creativity and diversity of the marketing division of Mattel, was evident throughout this year with their partnership with The Hilton Mexico City Santa Fe. The Hilton decided to offer up the “Ultimate Barbie Glamping Experience”. For this year and this year only, in celebration of the 60 years that Barbie has reigned supreme, they have remodled their interior design to match the pink themes of a barbie doll house fit for the famous doll. And costing from $189 – $229 per night this one-off experience is highly memorable to say the least.

“Instagrammable” moments


With the age of social media influence peaking and online media platform membership at its highest, offering sharable moments in your hotel is essential, whether it be some unique feature or well placed art work these features can be a very effective tool to reach global audiences. To understand more about the importance of social media presence and influence for hotels click here to see how Aria Hotel in Budapest are maximizing on these global platforms.   

Immersive and experiential marketing


What’s more, continuing on the theme of immersive marketing, Mattel paired with Airbnb to create the Barbie Malibu experience. They completely decked out a beachfront property in the heart of Malibu and for only two days of the year (October 27th – October 29th) offered it to the Airbnb customer. In fact, so immersive is the experience that the Airbnb account is run by Barbie herself. The house offers panoramic ocean views with a home cinema, an outdoor infinity pool, and a Zen room, the Malibu mansion is intended to reflect the standards of Barbie doll over the years. Not surprisingly, the originality of the concept attracted impressive coverage both in the press and on social media, generating the kind of brand awareness that most hotels only dream of.


Experiential marketing is becoming a large player in allowing the consumer to tangibilize the product or service in question, resulting in a much larger personal investment into the brand. Through association, consumers are becoming much more loyal to the brands they’re experiencing and this translates to higher sales. Click here to read how Muji are innovating in this area with the successful launch of the first Muji Hotels.

Barbie has brought the world many things, from expert marketing to the empowerment of young girls across the world. What hotels can take from this brand and their marketing drive is that after 60 years, the same product continues to sell vast quantities and generate significant revenue for the company. So, for hotels that have been around for quite some time and are experiencing some decline, there is hope, and it lies in the uniqueness of campaigns like this.

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