Selling ‘Barbie’: Inside the Marketing Phenomenon
The Town with Matthew Belloni
Wed, July 26, 2023
Podchat Summary

The Big Picture: The Marketing Campaign Behind Barbie

In this episode of The Big Picture, host Matt Belloni sits down with Josh Goldstein, the president of worldwide marketing for Warner Brothers, to discuss the strategic and well-executed marketing campaign for the movie Barbie. The campaign aimed to broaden the appeal of the film beyond its target audience of young girls and their moms, and it proved to be a huge success.

An Early Start and Subversive Trailers

The marketing campaign for Barbie kicked off early, with the first image of Barbie unveiled at CinemaCon. But it wasn't just a simple image reveal - Warner Brothers took a bold approach by releasing a trailer that parodied the iconic film 2001: A Space Odyssey. This trailer set the tone for the movie, showcasing its subversive nature and capturing the attention of audiences.

Partnerships and Promotions

Warner Brothers didn't stop at the trailer - they also partnered with numerous brands for tie-ins and promotions. Companies like Airbnb, Progressive, Gap, and Bloomingdale's joined forces with Barbie, creating a sense of urgency and importance around the film. These partnerships helped to expand the reach of the marketing campaign and generate even more buzz.

Creating Curiosity and Engagement

The marketing campaign for Barbie was not just about flashy trailers and brand partnerships. It also focused on creating curiosity and engagement among the audience. Warner Brothers employed a "breadcrumb strategy" that led viewers on a journey of discovery, keeping them intrigued and wanting to learn more about the movie.

Unexpected Success and Cultural Engagement

The success of the marketing campaign can be attributed to the unique and unexpected nature of the movie itself. Barbie defied expectations and offered a fresh take on the character, which resonated with audiences. Additionally, the campaign benefited from the organic growth of the "barbenheimer" meme, which united moviegoers and created a sense of celebration around the film.

Lessons Learned and Future Possibilities

The success of Barbie serves as a testament to the power of bold and unexpected storytelling in the movie industry. It also highlights the potential of female-driven intellectual property (IP) to be highly successful. The marketing campaign for Barbie teaches us important lessons about defying expectations, building curiosity, and engaging the audience on multiple levels.

Furthermore, the success of Barbie may pave the way for more risks to be taken with IP in the future. It could also lead to a recognition by the Academy that big, well-executed populist movies can be rewarded with Oscar nominations. The impact of Barbie goes beyond just its box office success, demonstrating the potential for change and innovation in the film industry.

Original Show Notes
Matt is joined by Warner Bros. president of worldwide marketing Josh Goldstine to discuss the strategy behind one of the great marketing campaigns of all time in ‘Barbie.' They break down the bold and subversive marketing choices that suggested this was not your typical ‘Barbie’ movie; how they were able to pull this off with the owner of Barbie IP, Mattel; and how the ‘Barbenheimer’ phenomenon took effect. Later, Matt makes a prediction about ‘Barbie’s' chances at an Oscar nomination. For a 20 percent discount on Matt’s Hollywood insider newsletter, ‘What I’m Hearing ...,’ click here. Email us your thoughts! Host: Matt Belloni Guest: Josh Goldstine Producer: Craig Horlbeck and Jessie Lopez Theme Song: Devon Renaldo Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
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