25 Aug 2023
The hit movie 'Barbie' makes history not just by breaking 1 billion dollars at the box office, but also by being a trending online topic long before its release. And when did a movie ever launch a new trend color, like Barbie did with hot pink? Food brands and restaurant chains made clever use of the gigantic Barbie buzz and developed branded products, menus or even locations.
The sparkly Barbie Movie Collection at donut chain Krispy Kreme features a pair of doughnuts and a Cotton Candy chilled drink, all adorned with edible glitter, sprinkles, and Barbie-themed designs. The Original Glazed donuts come in flavors such as strawberry and bubblegum. Customers can choose between designs that state: this Barbie is an Original, a Dreamer, or a Girl Boss, adding to the online shareability of the treats.
Hamburger and Barbie enthusiasts in Brazil can snack on the unique Pink Combo Meal inspired by Barbie and Ken. This fast food menu, featuring a burger with a hot pink sauce, has gone viral all over the world because of its intriguing looks. The hamburger is accompanied by ‘Ken's potatoes’ (French fries) and a Barbie Shake: a strawberry milkshake topped with a donut featuring a glossy pink icing. To top it off, the menu has a special Barbie-branded design, for a full plastic fantastic dining experience.
In the UK, popcorn brand Proper opened a flashy pink corn-er store (pun intended). Here, the shelves are stacked with the limited edition Proper x Barbie Sweet Popcorn. But the brand pop-up doesn’t just lift on the movie success, it gives visitors a memorable experience. They can feel like a Barbie too in the glow-up room, where Proper offers sparkling Barbie nail art and tooth gems. And there are plenty of parties with DJs and dance performances. By offering those activities, the pop-up store cleverly taps into the growing interest in hybrid retail concepts.
Cold Stone Creamery partnered with Warner Bros. Pictures and Mattel to celebrate the launch of the film with a new Barbie-themed ice cream flavor: Pink Cotton Candy. The ice cream is also used for two new products. ‘All the Glitters is Pink’ is a sparkly treat that combines the ice cream with a graham cracker pie crust, sprinkles, and whipped topping. The ‘Best Cake Ever’ is an ice cream cake with yellow cake, colorful pink sprinkles and generous frosting. The cotton candy milkshake gave rise to a TikTok trend which created a massive buzz around the ice cream store’s Barbie line. In the video format, users sip on the soft pink drink, make a spin and are ‘suddenly transformed’ into Barbies, wearing blonde wigs, pink dresses and high heels.
At the Malibu Barbie Café, consumers can indulge in a whimsical and vibrant experience. They step into the Barbie universe at the pop-up cafe, which is decorated as a Malibu Barbie dreamhouse with pink and pastel hues, palm trees, and an iconic life-size Barbie Box for photo moments. Here, anyone can feel like a Barbie doll as they sip on a pink lemonade and eat Pacific Paradise Pancakes or an Anything is Possible Sundae.
In today's world where trends are set by the click of a button and pop culture hypes can instantly reach millions of people at once, food businesses can easily capitalize on these moments of frenzy. The examples listed above – of which many have gone viral – show how powerful a brand collab or pop culture reference can be.
As consumers eagerly embrace the latest online hype, they not only seek entertainment and escapism but also a sense of belonging to a broader cultural conversation. Food outlets and food products can tap into consumers' desire for immersive experiences that transcend mere consumption. Biting into their pink donut or burger, consumers can feel as if they are part of the Barbie universe. By crafting themed menus, innovative products, and immersive locations, these businesses provide consumers with an opportunity to participate in the narrative of their favorite cultural phenomena.
The allure is further fueled by the shareability of such offerings. In an age where social media dominates, consumers relish the chance to showcase their participation in these trends through visually appealing and Instagram-worthy content. The cleverly designed products and aesthetically pleasing spaces allow consumers to not only indulge in the experience but also actively share it with their online communities.
Check out this feature on the weird and artsy cakes that are taking over Instagram.