Barbie: B2B Marketing Lessons from the Highest Grossing Movie of 2023 with Director of Content Development & Owned Media at Autodesk, Kylee Swenson

In this episode, we’re helping you prepare to pivot and take on the competition with marketing lessons from Mattel and Barbie, the movie. And we’re doing it all with the help of special guest Kylee Swenson, Director of Content Development and Owned Media at Autodesk. Together, we discuss being ready to pivot, the importance of inclusivity, and expanding your addressable market.

Episode Summary

When new competition pops up, you gotta be ready to pivot in a fresh and sparkly direction. You’re adapting fast, staying relevant and realigning your content strategy to outshine competitors.

Especially if you plan to stick around for nearly 80 years like Mattel, you’re bound to see new brands enter the market. And sure, Bratz and L.O.L. Surprise! Dolls are cute and trendy. But they didn’t just release a record-breaking movie with an all-star cast that won the first ever Golden Globe for cinematic and box office achievement.

But for Mattel, the Barbie movie was a big pivot. So in this episode, we’re helping you prepare to pivot and take on the competition with marketing lessons from Mattel and Barbie, the movie. And we’re doing it all with the help of special guest Kylee Swenson, Director of Content Development and Owned Media at Autodesk. Together, we discuss being ready to pivot, the importance of inclusivity, and expanding your addressable market. So reminisce about your childhood weird Barbie as we get into this episode of Remarkable.

About our guest, Kylee Swenson

Kylee Swenson is Director of Content Development & Owned Media at Autodesk. She leads a global team of writers, editors, designers, illustrators and video producers creating content in multiple languages for the Webby Award–winning publication, Design & Make with Autodesk ( for the global design-and-make technology company, Autodesk (

Her editorial vision is fueled by the awe-inspiring things people create with innovation and technology, from building resilient infrastructure that mitigates the impacts of climate change to designing 3D-printed skull implants that save lives.

Prior to joining Autodesk in 2012, she was a music journalist and magazine editor at publications where she interviewed artists such as Björk, Chrissie Hynde (The Pretenders), Robert Smith (The Cure), and Del the Funky Homosapien (Hieroglyphics). She’s also the author of The Recording Secrets Behind 50 Great Albums; was once nominated for a Grammy as a collaborator with the group, Nortec Collective; and is a former Governor for the San Francisco chapter of the Recording Academy.

About Autodesk

Autodesk is a global leader in software for architects, builders, engineers, designers, manufacturers, 3D artists, and production teams. From greener buildings to smarter products to more mesmerizing blockbusters, Autodesk software helps their customers to design and make a better world for all. Over 100 million people use Autodesk software like AutoCAD, Revit, Maya, 3ds Max, Fusion 360, SketchBook, and more to unlock their creativity and solve important design, business and environmental challenges. Their software runs on both personal computers and mobile devices and taps the infinite computing power of the cloud to help teams around the world collaborate, design, simulate and fabricate their ideas in 3D. They are headquartered in the San Francisco Bay Area and have more than 10,000 employees worldwide.

About Barbie

Barbie is a live action movie based on the Mattel toy. It was released this year, and stars Margot Robbie and Ryan Gosling as Ken. It’s about Barbie — who lives in an idealized, plastic world — having an existential crisis, which manifests as her feet going flat, getting cellulite and bad breath. And so she goes to see weird Barbie, played by Kate McKinnon, who tells her she has to find the girl who plays with her in the real world so that she can be cured.

Director Greta Gerwig said with the movie, she “wanted to give people –- and girls — but people the sense of you’re okay and you have value, just as you are. It is not something you earn or you need to achieve. Symbols like Barbie are an important way to reflect back the enough-ness of just being a girl, being a woman, being a person. And that’s what I wanted to explore in this movie, because Barbie’s for so long has been a symbol of the thing you could never be.”

It’s become the highest grossing movie of the year with over $1.4 billion globally, making Greta Gerwig the most successful solo female director ever. There’s speculation that stock for Mattel may rise by up to 25% because of the movie.

Key Takeaways

What B2B Companies Can Learn From Barbie:

  • Be ready to pivot. Kylee says, “Companies can't wait to be disrupted by other companies. And CEOs like Ynon Kreiz need to be able to see around corners, so to speak.” So when Bratz and L.O.L. Surprise! O.M.G. dolls became popular, Mattel decided to capitalize on their intellectual property to make the live action Barbie movie.
  • Be inclusive. Barbie, the movie, has Barbies of all skin tones, shapes, sizes, abilities, professions, etc. And of course we can’t forget weird Barbie. Kylee says inclusivity is an important value at Autodesk as a global company. She says, “We have something called the culture code and every year people are evaluated not just on what they do, but how they do it. And they're evaluated on inclusivity as a value. So, part of this code is looking at ways to check our biases. To learn to work with people from all walks of life. I have somebody on my team who's in Tokyo, somebody in Munich, somebody in Detroit. We've got people all over the world, so that culture code is very important to the company.” That inclusivity in the makeup of your company will be reflected in your content, and resonate with more people.
  • Expand your addressable market. Kylee says, “The Barbie movie doesn't just appeal to young girls and mothers. I was really surprised that grandfathers, dads, boys, non binary people [like it]. It's really meant to be universal for everyone.” Because the movie is about existence, it appeals to everyone. So create content that speaks to the human instead of to the customer.

*“We can't outgrow this notion that we are the AutoCAD company if we can't become more of a known brand that people can equate with a broad set of capabilities across architecture, engineering, construction, manufacturing, and media entertainment. We're a B2B company. We're probably not going to become a household name like Barbie, but we definitely have a lot of room to grow, and that's something that we always have to be mindful of.” - Kylee Swenson

*“What do we feel the audiences want to read about? We have to think about customers and prospects and what they care about. We also have to think about what Autodesk is. You know, what are our business goals? Connecting those things together is really, really important. But at the same time, you can't sacrifice quality, you can't sacrifice the journalistic integrity that we've been betting on for so many years.” - Kylee Swenson

Episode Highlights


Watch Barbie

Connect with Kylee on LinkedIn

Learn more about Autodesk

Check out Design and Make with Autodesk

About Remarkable!

Remarkable! is created by the team at Caspian Studios, the premier B2B Podcast-as-a-Service company. Caspian creates both nonfiction and fiction series for B2B companies. If you want a fiction series check out our new offering - The Business Thriller - Hollywood style storytelling for B2B. Learn more at

In today’s episode, you heard from Ian Faison (CEO of Caspian Studios) and Meredith Gooderham (Senior Producer). Remarkable was produced this week by Meredith Gooderham, mixed by Scott Goodrich, and our theme song is “Solomon” by FALAK.

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