Why It Works: Barbie’s Imagine the Possibilities Campaign

During NBC’s live broadcast of The Wiz! Live, Barbie debuted a new ad campaign entitled “Imagine the Possibilities” that warmed hearts and moistened eyes with its portrayal of young girls going after their dreams—and the grownups around them going along with it.


As Barbie seeks to reform its image through this campaign, as well as a “shero” collection of dolls based on real women, this ad features so many elements that could inspire a great video for your organization. Here are some of the reasons why this two minute short was so impactful, and some ways to infuse a similar impact into your own project.

It’s familiar. Whether you were the child who role-played with dolls, or the sibling (or parent) of someone who did, the feeling that came from allowing these opposable figurines to act out the pictures in your imagination is a nearly universal one. When you see the girls in the commercial get to act out their visions of traveling on business trips, coaching soccer players, or teaching in a college classroom, you can remember similar images of the world you’d live in dancing through your mind. By capturing that familiar feeling, Barbie was able to elicit an emotion in the viewer.

How You Can Do This: Can your product, service, or event be tied to something that many remember from their childhood, or another formative experience? For example, a company that plans weddings could play on how little girls imagine their big day, or a construction company could re-imagine their business as conducted by little kids with their toy tools.

It’s surprising. The shock on the adults in the college classroom at the start of the video betrays how we all feel when we watch it: It’s a wonderful and adorable surprise to see a young girl with all the confidence and excitement in the world living out her dreams. The same goes for the men on the soccer team that are encouraged to lift their knees high “like a unicorn,” or the unsuspecting fellow travelers who are treated to snippets from the tiniest of traveler’s conversations.

How You Can Do This: Does your product or service have any uses that some viewers may not expect? Are there parts of an event that people might be surprised to learn about? Use your movie to bring these moments and elements out from behind the curtains—bring viewers into the back room to learn more.

It’s timely. In a moment where women are hurdling the oft-chronicled “confidence gap,” Barbie positioned their product in a conversation about that phenomenon. Showing soon-to-be women thriving in environments where women aren’t always prominently featured (like academia or in athletics) struck a note for those who want to see women in those positions. Barbie imagined the future that society is starting to wish for.

How You Can Do This: Where could your product, service, or event fit into a larger national or societal conversation? Answering this question thoughtfully, perhaps with the advice of peers, competitors, and customers, could be the key to the success of your film efforts.

Imagine the possibilities that your movie has to tug at the heartstrings, to surprise, and to support a movement as Barbie’s most recent ad campaign has done. Once you’re ready to get started, please let us know—we’re excited to explore the possibilities with you!