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3 ways edtech marketing can feel inspired by the hype of the Barbie movie



Chasing a brand with 99% awareness may seem ridiculous.


When I saw the movie a little over a week ago, I couldn't help but wonder if it was possible to bring the playfulness, dynamic energy, and magnitude of the blockbuster of the year to the edtech industry.


Then I realized, Barbie's already tried attempting this years ago.


Marketing sold my parents on the Barbie B-Book laptop back in the day. And the device delivered on sharpening my logic, memory, spelling, and Spanish language skills.


Why make the connection between an entertainment icon and an industry? Here's what marketing for the Barbie movie and edtech BOTH emphasize:

  • Inspiring play

  • Positivity and imagination

  • Personalization and individuality

Can marketers get our audiences to reach a Barbie movie level of excitement? We can try.


Feeling Barbie-d out? Let THIS be the last doll movie content you read for a while.


A celebrity edtech investment is a lesson in star power and this industry

Imagine Angelina Jolie plugging how edtech products help her juggle her 4 kids' education while she travels around the world.


Unfortunately, a celebrity brand ambassador feels out of reach for many edtech companies.


Most edtech marketing budgets don't have:

  • The dough to compete with the $150 million Warner Bros. spent marketing Barbie

  • The luxury of promoting a brand that already had decades-long awareness

  • The star power of an A-list cast wooed by enticing contracts

What we currently lack in star power we have in philanthropic investments.


Look at Zearn.


Last year, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation pledged to invest $1.1 billion in Zearn. Here's a quick rundown of what the company is about:

  • An edtech math software company

  • A nonprofit founded in 2012

  • Built on the idea that all kids are math kids

  • Claimed usage in 1 in 4 elementary schools

The investment announcement put a lot of eyeballs on the company because:

  • the donors are Bill and Melinda Gates

  • the timing matched the increased industry attention toward the math crisis

Ready to swing for the fences and find a titan investor to bet on your edtech? It may be time to find your company's unique alignment.


Money isn't absolutely everything in edtech marketing

Duolingo is one of the only edtech products I know that's a household name in the industry.


This is largely thanks to their famous talking green owl mascot powered by the acclaimed Zaria Parvez and the social media team.


The organic social content is filled with effortlessly witty videos and captions on TikTok and beyond.


Even more importantly, the social media hype has helped skyrocket the company to the #1 education app on the App Store.


So yes, the Barbie movie was powered by a $150 million budget on top of 99% brand awareness. The brand is unmatched.


But so is Duolingo's in their unique way.


Yours can be too.


Taking notes for your edtech marketing team is less about trying to copy the movie's promotional moves, and more about using them as a vessel to reimagine what our companies' IT factors are.


Don't underestimate marketing the cute factor

Educators can see beyond marketing fluff when they're looking for new edtech.


But did you know avatars can help you drive sales? Here's how they help companies build stronger connections with their target audience:

  • Offer a more empathetic experience

  • Create a more personalized experience

  • Produce a less stress-free experience for customers overall

Barbie is cute. Stylish. She has a sweet voice and a fun, quirky personality.


Not even the brand's controversial history has fully stopped our society from loving it. If you're not convinced, don't forget the $1.18 billion box office the movie has earned worldwide.


Lots of edtech already has the cute factor going for it naturally, since many companies in our industry have naturally embraced avatars and other kiddie branding elements.


We can capitalize on not spending time manufacturing this image, and shift our attention to owning what we already have.

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