The Balmain x Barbie collection is displayed at Neiman Marcus in Beverly Hills, Calif., on Wednesday, July 19, 2023.
New York CNN  — 

During its first few days in theaters, “Barbie” raked in $337 million globally in the box office, the largest opening weekend of 2023 so far. But even before the numbers came in, “Barbie” was a merchandising hit.

The film had been generating hype for months, thanks to a star-studded cast, beloved director, dazzling aesthetic – and a seemingly endless array of Barbie-themed merchandise.

In June, brand strategist Moshe Isaacian started keeping track of the official partnerships on Twitter. A scroll through his thread shows, among other things: A gaming console, pair of shoes, hotel, house, insurance commercial, a candle, rugs, nail polish, roller blades, a toy car, a lunchbox, dog apparel, a toothbrush and several other items emblazoned with the Barbie logo, awash in hot pink.

Isaacian has posted about roughly 50 partnerships. That’s, almost literally, the half of it: Mattel, maker of the iconic toy, has made over 100 brand deals for the movie, which is distributed by Warner Bros. (CNN and Warner Bros. are both owned by Warner Bros. Discovery.)

A man poses in a large Barbie doll box at Bloomingdale's in New York, ahead of the movie's release.

For marketers, “Barbie” has turned into a massive opportunity: A rosy, fizzy way to get new customers – of all ages – and stay culturally relevant. That’s always a good opportunity, but especially so in the current environment, where even seemingly benign marketing campaigns can be controversial.

And it’s not often that so much attention is focused on a single event, like a movie premier.

“We live in such a fragmented world, that it is really hard for events to break through the clutter,” said Tim Calkins, associate chair of the marketing department at Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management. “These shared moments, when they really catch on, have enormous power.”

The Barbie effect

For some bars and restaurants, Barbie mania has led to a rush of patrons.

In the spring, when Barbie memes started leaving their glittery trail across the internet, the team at Wunder Garten, a beer garden and event space in Washington, DC, started to take notice.

Around that time, it started planning Barbie parties: Celebrations with themed cocktails, pink food and plenty of opportunities to show off Barbiecore outfits in the Instagram-friendly venue, including life-size hot pink Barbie and Ken boxes.

“We were expecting a very big turnout, and we got a very, very big turnout,” said Leana Chavez, assistant manager at Wunder Garten.