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  • Samuel Mroz

Barbie Brings the Heat in Hot Pink, Redefining the Gold Standard of Movie Marketing

It may come to no one’s surprise that any successful movie is often backed by a thorough marketing campaign. Think red carpets and flashy wardrobes. Think world-trotting interviews and Q&As alike. Think early showings, surprise movie star drop-ins, and if you're Tom Cruise, giving a salute to the industry all while manning a fighter jet thousands of feet in the air.Brokering the ties between a story and its audience is no easy task, with even aviation tactics being potential cards in a deck of consumer outreach. However, what happens to a story when life intervenes, when the fault lines shift?

One dicey tweet from the project's main lead can stifle months of growing faith. World-spanning diseases bury one’s focus on entertainment under a pile of angst and liability. Worst of all, when the very business you occupy implodes from within, you're left stranded amidst a sea of larger dilemmas.

A rally of thousands in Hollywood have gone on strike in protest of shoddy working conditions and turbulent career futures, as a crossroads between studio and auteur has yet again been reached. With so much gloom in the air for what’s likely to come in months of failed negotiations and growing disapproval, one campaign jet-streamed its brand to the very last day, covering the media stage with its signature shade: pink. Greta Gerwig’s “Barbie” has rewritten the gold standard of movie marketing in its recent efforts, using its name-brand toy as fuel for a record-setting release, even when poised against competition to that of Christopher Nolan’s “Oppenheimer”.

As profiled in The Hollywood Reporter, countless strategies were put to use in growing the tidal wave that is Barbie, working off the spirited backbone of its creatives and the content from which they pulled from. Collabs with companies defined by apparel, cosmetics, and the distant world of insurance all came to play with their new favorite toy. A film rife with commentary and more so, a distinct image. Displace the facts of this being one of the most anticipated films of the year, far before the reigns of ad policy turned toward sparkles, the pressure by protest took favor for this own epic of presentation. Funneling an endless stream of content to various demographics, everyone was either craving more silly antics from the film’s wide-spanning ensemble or simply wanted to know what the hell this story was about.

Thankfully, the goal was to elicit a response, pushing aside the reasons from which they arose and focusing on the growing number of voices tagging in to share their thoughts. And share they did, as the film grossed an estimated $155 million by the end of its weekend opening, as reported by The New York Times. A breakout success for the business in recent years, Barbie’s judgment on what made it stand out was exactly the reason it forged ahead in grossing profits. The most recent example of a culturally defining operation, its ownership of difference gave reminders of movements in years past.

In comparison to Nolan himself saw his 2008 release of “The Dark Knight”, a project that has maintained relevance through iconography both on and off the screen, make its bed through the very gambit that so many had previously doubted. With Heath Ledger’s Joker offering a new take on the historic character, the mystery behind his rendition became the draw. Creating a 15-month spanning alternate reality experience that had fans calling numbers that were written in the sky, to finding mobile phones baked inside of birthday cakes, a commitment to the project was clear.

This consideration would pay off, as the film opened to rave reviews and sold out theaters, accumulating over $1 billion in ticket sales by the end of its theatrical run. Sad to say that Ledger’s performance became indebted to his personal identity, as his passing soon after the film would be med with a post-mortem award in the best supporting actor category at that year’s Oscars. Despite the sorrow abundant, his distinction as the caped crusader’s arch nemesis was a fan favorite portrayal and although the majority of that was earned off his own accord, a boosted marketing campaign added an additional hunch to the legacy of the fallen star.

Additional examples before our Barbarized world stuck close to their guns in finding the elements that made them pop. Flicks like “The Blair Witch Project” toyed with reality itself, creating a fanbase that couldn’t say whether the events they witnessed on screen were real or fake.

Akin to the talent found in the world’s favorite girl doll, it’s no secret that Margot Robbie played a major part in the facilitation of putting Barbie on the big screen. However method she went with the role, her commitment has yet to defy the very fabric of her career, as screen savant Joaquin Phoenix would go on to do in his mockumentary, “I’m Still Here”. Telling those far and wide of his departure from acting, the world had long thought that the actor had taken his talents towards a rap career, an idea that would be shunned away by the release of said film.

Subverting expectations, Barbie has looked toward the pillars of movie's past and pulled its strongest parts into its own column. Layered in color, social commentary, and a collective of acting regalia, the film is now poised to grow in box office standing as the months wane on.

However, many projects aren’t as lucky as those that failed to be released prior to the strike surge are facing imminent delays and halted productions. As reported by Deadline, the slated September release of the R-rated sports romance “Challengers” has been pushed back to April due to the protests, with its main star Zendaya joining in on the picket lines. The first of many titles that are expected to be heavily postponed, this story is a common one, as the inability to market a movie is immediately put into a discussion as actors stand in support of their cause.Aimed to get much worse before it gets any better, Hollywood is facing an imminent limbo as it has placed the pause button on almost all stories. The only reason we have yet to feel it slow is by virtue of the one and only girl doll.

Barbie is having its moment and while it comes at a time when the business is looking more scarce than ever, at least we can head into the impending unknown with a plastique paved smile etched across our faces.


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