How One Wine Brand Navigated Its Nod To Barbie


She’s everything. You’re just fermented grapes. What’s a brand to do?

As ubiquitous as the Barbie marketing blitz may feel, only so many brands are invited into the club. And certain categories are left out altogether, like alcoholic beverage brands (although containers that hold wines, etc., do get a pass -- Dragon Glassware, for one, has an official Barbie collection).

Not wanting to miss out, some brands are turning to unofficial connections to the cultural phenomenon, walking a fine line in the process -- a particularly sensitive matter for brand categories Mattel might not want associated with its iconic doll.

CPG Insider discussed the subject with Bright Cellars’ Vice President of Marketing Torrie Belknap as the brand rolled out a Barbie-themed wine bundle.

This interview has been edited for length and clarity.

CPG Insider: With any type of official brand partnership presumably out of the question for Bright Cellars (or any alcoholic beverage brands), what were the benefits and challenges of developing an unofficial nod to the Mattel icon’s big screen moment?

Torrie Belknap: We knew the movie was going to dominate the cultural conversation this summer -- so not only did we want to be a part of it, but we wanted to give our fans a special way they could celebrate the movie’s release.

Of course there’s a fine line to walk when you’re not an official sponsor or licensee of any of the brand’s IP, so we leaned into a key element that is quintessentially a part of the brand but also is intrinsic to some of our own products: the color pink. We embraced the color to curate a ”Drink Pink Bundle” complete with rosé wines and our Day & Night fresh strawberry margaritas – our way of nodding to and celebrating all things pink this summer.

CPG Insider: Of those challenges, which are specific to the category, and which might any brand seeking to unofficially align itself with Barbie face?

Belknap: The biggest challenge is for brands to creatively align themselves with the conversation in an authentic way. These types of marketing initiatives fall flat if what you’re doing doesn’t appeal to your core customer or make sense for the product category.

As a wine club, we market strictly  to a 21+ consumer, and most of our fans are women in their 30s -- the same women who grew up with the dolls [and a key demographic for the film], so it was a natural opportunity for us to lean into something they might be nostalgic about and excited to raise a glass to.

We also closely monitored social trends and saw that the sunburst design from the movie was gaining traction. This became instantly associated with the film and is a design element that’s not trademarked in any way, so we were able to incorporate that into the Drink Pink Box as well.

CPG Insider: What went into deciding which Bright Cellars offerings made sense to highlight?

Belknap: We wanted to give wine lovers a variety of pink drinks they could invite their friends over and celebrate with. What’s included is our best-selling rosé wines (hand-picked by our master sommelier) and our Day & Night fresh strawberry margaritas, which just launched.

CPG Insider: How might you suggest pairing each of the Bright Cellars’ Pink Drink Box offerings with one of Barbie’s official food-branded collaborations?

Belknap: I pulled our master sommelier, Catherine Fallis, in for help with this one.

Catherine Falls: For Cold Stone Creamery’s All That Glitters is Pink Creation, I’d suggest our fruity and lightly sweet Stigma Grand Reserve Sparkling Pink wine. Barbie Cake and Shake is a great pairing on its own, but adding pink bubbles elevates the experience!

I’d use Pastifica Di Martino’s Barbie Pennette Rigate with a rich, creamy, and of course pink, vodka or beet sauce. Pennette Rigate is so tasty with our crisp, light and dry Petal Press Rose from Columbia Valley Washington –--which, at 9% ABV,  is a low-alcohol wine!

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