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Come On Barbie,

Let's Go Party


It’s fair to say this pop-up has got all the makings of a memorable guest experience.

A local narrative inspired by the sunny Malibu vibes, panoramic ocean views and Ken’s love of surf culture this is a property with deep connection to its surrounds.


An Iconic identity in all its technicolour, guests are immersed in Barbies signature Pink in a self-described “picture plastic paradise” which blends coastal chic with a transitional toy town design style.


A memorable experience, where guests can take Ken’s closet for a spin, relax by the pool, and finish the day throwing some shapes on Ken’s disco dance floor – “Come on Barbie let’s go party!”

The concept of brand partnerships and pop-up stays isn’t new in the world of hotels. We’ve seen successful examples from the likes of Italian fashion house Valentino, who collaborated with Palazzo Avino to bring their iconic style and glamour to the Amalfi Coast with a beach club takeover. Veuve Clicquot’s, champagne inspired hotel pop-up in Noosa, Queensland where guests could live lavishly with all the bubbles. Beverly Hills Hotel x Dior “Riviera” blending “fashion and fun” by bringing their trademark style to this landmark hotel with a brimming boutique, sanctuary spa and surf inspired cabanas.


The opportunity to bring a brand to life and do so holistically across a guest journey is an enticing one. Particularly as brands look to find more meaningful ways to connect with customers and grow likeminded community. Perhaps that’s why we’re seeing a rising wave of luxury brands such as Louis Vuitton, eye the opportunity to move into hotels and do so for the long-term. The luxury fashion brand, noting in a recent interview it plans to reimagine their iconic headquarters into the brands first hotel and cultural hub.  After all, inviting customers to “live and sleep with the brand”, has got to be the ultimate brand experience and the benchmark for true “lifestyle” brands.


So, what to make of the latest eye-catching partnership between Barbie and Airbnb? Ken’s renting out his Malibu DreamHouse in all its “Kendom glory” – stays are free and for one night only, as the brand goes all out to promote the release of the upcoming Barbie Movie.

There’s no doubt the latest pop-up will drive awareness about the upcoming film - Its playful, eye catching and unmistakably Barbie. But is it a meeting of minds, in-terms of two brands with a shared set of values? Beyond a love of travel and adventure, possibly not. But it plays to Barbie’s mission to create products and experiences that inspire, entertain, and develop through play. Although it’s a pop-up and not a longer-term collaboration, it’s fair to say it’s got people talking. Sitting alongside a swath of incredible brand activations to promote and launch the film, this is more than a fleeting ad campaign but a masterclass in building a brand.


So how could hotels and brands find the perfect partner and create their own proposition, for the long term?  Well, it’s got to be a purpose, values led philosophy. A meeting of minds. One of shared values, reciprocity, and collaboration. An appreciation of both style and substance. The most memorable hotel brands look beyond providing a good bed for the night, they cultivate culture, community, and discovery. They weave it across all layers of a brand's design and experience, to build something bigger and more meaningful that lives beyond the moment and the stay.

Words by James Huntly, Founder & Creative Director AboundStudio. 

Extracts featured in HM Magazine, see the article here.

Image Credit | © 2023 MATTEL / WBEI. Courtesy of Airbnb image by Joyce Lee. Hogwash Studios

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