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HR Barbies: Creating a Master Marketing Plan for Your Benefits

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Bridget Mortland, Head of Marketing profile photo
By Bridget Mortland, Head of Marketing
 on September 4, 2023
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Is your benefits engagement plan Kenough? Three questions to ask yourself to give your benefits engagement strategy some Barbie energy. 

Have you looked around lately and seen all the pink in our world? Have you gone to your favorite ice cream shop that is serving pink vanilla ice cream? Did you see the cheeseburgers that were pink? Barbie is embedded into so much of our daily lives right now, and it’s an incredible thing.  

I have been relishing in the marketing genius behind the Barbie movie-ment that is living on in such creative, yet organic ways. And that there are so many takeaways here for the HR and benefits industry. This marketing masterpiece, considered one of the best strategies of 2023, uses connection as their critical lever to keep bringing people in. That level of connection—easy, approachable, fun—has me thinking about the ways in which we engage employees every day.  

HR and benefits leaders can learn a lot about marketing to employees from the Barbie movie. Yes, it’s undeniable that HR & Benefits leaders also have to be marketers, but thankfully the brilliance of Barbie gives you a few tips and tricks. Here are some of the key lessons that I believe we can apply to employee marketing efforts: 

Know and leverage the power of your brand 

The Barbie movie used the power of the Barbie brand, hence all the pink in our world. But this brand also has 50 years of clout and recognition behind it, driven by millions of consumers who have core memories tied to Barbie. This energy helped drive the huge buzz we’re seeing today and a broad appeal to a wide range of people.  

HR teams can bottle up a bit of this energy and use the power of their own organization’s brand to drive buzz and appeal with their employees. After all, brand recognition plays a big role in getting people to engage because it taps into recognition and familiarity.  

Using the power of their own brand, which is the company’s core values, goals and culture, can create an emotional connection and enthusiasm among employees. This might look like: 

  • Paying homage to the history and evolution of the company by featuring references or stories 
  • Celebrating milestones and achievements across the organization 
  • Acknowledging challenging circumstances and mapping out how the company is working to improve and innovate 

When 85% of employees are confused about their benefits, any element of familiarity (and, let’s be honest, fun) can help reduce the barriers and encourage them to engage. Infusing your organization’s brand into benefits can play a crucial role in bringing employees along with you in the benefits experience. 

Key question to ask yourself: What do we want our employees to think, feel, and believe when they interact with their benefits?  

Create FOMO with diverse benefits programs and partnerships

The Barbie movie partnered with various brands and platforms to create unique and memorable experiences for the fans. Some experiences people may never interact with like staying at AirBnB’s Barbie Dream Home or Yacht, while some were as simple as Burger King’s pink burger. It showcased the versatility and relevance of the Barbie brand. With the use of strategic partnerships, HR could spotlight success stories, key employee testimonials to create value and opportunities for other employees. Some more frequently used than others. Create the FOMO of not using the benefits or resources others are using. People love to see what others are doing. If you feature ways employees are using key programs through testimonials, shoutouts on social, or internal spotlights, you will create advocacy for your programs and create internal influencers. Word of mouth and peer to peer promotion is one of the best goals HR & benefits teams should strive for.  

Key question to ask yourself: who across your organization has followership? Once you identify these individuals, empower them to share stories & encourage that movement.  

Deliver an empowering message

The Barbie movie delivered a positive and inspiring message for women and girls, by portraying Barbie as a smart, independent, and adventurous character who challenges the stereotypes and expectations of her society. The movie also featured a diverse cast of actors, who represented the diversity and individuality of women. HR can deliver an inclusive and empowering message for their employees, by spotlighting programs to support and address some of the key issues that employees face today, such as stress, burnout, work-life integration, etc. HR can also aim to empower employees to be happy, productive, and engaged in their work, because they are valued, not only in their pay, but in their broader rewards.  

Key question to ask yourself: What is one area of employee well-being you want to make significant improvement on? Once you decide – connect that to the program that will make that impact… and GO ALL IN! and then repeat. If you give it to them all at once, you’ve already lost them.  

So, let’s take a bit from the Barbie Movie marketing masterpiece and engage our employees with a little marketing science and tactics. Giving employees a reason to quote Barbie as they describe that working for your company, “is the best day ever. So was yesterday, and so is tomorrow, and every day from now until forever.” – Barbie