The Barbie movie has not only dominated the singles chart Top 5 with its Mark Ronson produced soundtrack and shattered box office records with its record-breaking opening weekend, it has had a palpable impact on the digital zeitgeist. But now that the pink dust is beginning to settle, what does the data actually tell us about what drove Barbiemania and, importantly, what can the music industry learn from the story of this cultural phenomenon?
While the buzz ahead of the film was intense, it reached a fever pitch immediately after the movie’s debut; and at that point, there was also a marked shift in attitudes towards the film. Data collected from creator activity on TikTok shows that the carefully curated line-up of artists and songs on the album had a pivotal impact on defining attitudes towards the film, contributing to the fundamental reshaping of the Barbie brand.
Before the movie’s release, data sourced via Round’s proprietary technology – which allows us to identify, understand and leverage trends that are emerging on TikTok in real time – showed what many might have expected: that the excitement surrounding the movie was focused on its materiality, with conversations revolving around the film’s striking aesthetics, giving rise to the #Barbiecore craze.
#Barbiecore celebrates the neon pink aesthetics associated with Mattel’s doll and, during the three weeks before the movie hit screens, the hashtag accumulated around 300 million views. To put this acceleration into perspective, the hashtag has gained approximately 700 million views in total since its inception in the summer of 2022. #Barbiecore, along with its sub-trends #Barbieshake, the #Barbiefeet challenge and ‘Hi Barbie’, surfaced in response to the style and vibe of the initial trailer. Alongside this, Aqua’s 1997 hit Barbie Girl unsurprisingly experienced a resurgence on TikTok, underscoring the role of music and nostalgia in driving movements.
Based on these trends, expectations emerged around the upcoming movie’s narrative. Many anticipated a high-energy, pink-themed experience that resonated with Barbie’s core essence. In response, marketing teams across the music industry were doubtless poised to activate content strategies that capitalised on the ‘pink wave’ to promote associated songs and artists across digital platforms.
#Barbiecore no more
But as soon as the movie and its Mark Ronson-produced soundtrack were released, the real-time public reaction hit the brakes and took an unexpected U-turn, pulling the rug from under any carefully devised #Barbiecore influenced marketing plans.
According to Round’s data, #Barbiecore tracks Dance The Night, by Dua Lipa, and Nicki Minaj and Ice Spice’s collaboration, Barbie World, initially gained popularity, with around 15,000 daily videos each after the film’s release. However, their trajectory quickly plateaued.