In recent times, we have witnessed movies that had incredible substance miserably fail at the box office and on the other end of the spectrum, we had movies that were relatively average but still managed to outperform the best and make it big at the box office.
This singularity of marketing outperforming great storytelling is not relatively new but to our dismay has taken center stage in the contemporary entertainment industry.
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The Cultural Shocks of the Digital Age
In the past, many critically acclaimed movies with a cult following failed to make it big at the box office. For instance, The King of Comedy, Mulholland Drive, The Pianist, The Shawshank Redemption, Hugo, and most recently Tenet were all big box-office disappointments yet most of them unreservedly hold the top spot in many critical and popular rankings.
Today, however, this trend has picked up great speed. To survive in the digital age and compel the audience to go watch a movie in the cinema, great content will barely scratch the surface.
To further unravel the mystery, today we will be analyzing this phenomenon from a marketing perspective to further shed light on the issue: Why an average film from a big studio outperforms quality cinema? For this purpose, we will be looking at the marketing campaign of Warner Brother’s Barbie in all its intricate details and tactics.
Why Barbie’s Marketing Campaign Was a Standout Success?
$1 Billion in a mere span of three weeks is nothing short of a riveting success, but it did not happen overnight as the definite success of the movie required a lot of effort on many fronts.
$150 Million Marketing Campaign
The biggest among them all was the gigantic marketing spend of $150 Million which was craftly utilized by Warner Brothers studios. With most movies, marketing is something that starts when the movie is all under wraps and the directors are working in the editing room to finalize the movie and trailer with the producers and the marketing team. This is usually the trend with big-shot studios.
However, Barbie’s marketing campaign started a year earlier before even the final cut was confirmed. The paid marketing campaign capitalized on another marketing magnet Avatar 2, with the trailer featuring in all its screenings with the iconic soundtrack of 2001: A Space Odyssey, generating considerable anticipation before the actual release of the film.
The social media, organic, influencer, and meme marketing for this feature also packed a considerable punch. It included a website that designed customizable Barbie posters. What’s even more crazy, the movie went ablaze on social media within few days of its release with images and videos of men and women from all walks of life embracing the Barbie concept while celebrating their individuality. It started a series of events that made Barbie trend number one across social platforms.
Ever heard of partnerships that create a whole house? Well, Barbie’s marketing team partnered with Airbnb to create a life-size replica of Barbie’s Malibu dreamhouse. What’s more, they collaborated with Burger King to churn out pink burgers.
Lastly, the team forged more than 100+ brand collaborations, from custom pink crocs to a dedicated Barbie line with Prada, the list is simply endless.
A Limitless Legacy
With the support of more than 60 years of history in the making, a marketing campaign can speak a million words to the audience with just the use of a single yet iconic color, pink.
Mattel’s iconic doll still remains the go-to toy of many aspiring women globally, who see it as a symbol of inspiration, beauty, and limitless possibilities. So, capitalizing on such a legacy should not have been a big task for seasoned marketeer. On the contrary, they made the best out of the doll’s legacy by making a confusing and below-average movie like Barbie the biggest box office hit of 2023.
An Omnipresent Culture
Another thing that the marketing campaign purposely capitalized on is an omnipresent culture. By simply polarizing women as its primary audience, it solidified its position as an impactful cultural force among women.
A daring move that sparked many heated debates and discussions, ultimately deeply echoing with the target audience as a cultural beacon of equality, individuality, and autonomy.
In today’s time, a great storyline may not necessarily propel a movie to box-office glory. But something that is more likely to do so is a marketing campaign revolving around a specific target audience.