In July 2023, aspiring writer Ava Demehin joined us for a week’s work experience, working within our marketing and social media team. Ava’s stint with Jérrard Wayne coincided with the release of Greta Gerwig’s Barbie and as a fan of the iconic character, she shared her thoughts on why the film’s ticket presales have broken the 2023 record.
Today, Barbie’s much-anticipated big-screen debut, directed and written by renowned filmmaker Greta Gerwig, will be hitting cinema screens around the world. But why does this film have so much hype? How does it relate to present day issues? And why is Barbie’s marketing getting so much praise?
What’s With The Barbie film Hype?
The excitement and love already surrounding the Barbie film feels as though it has both appeared like a blazing overnight sensation and also like it has always been there, just beneath the surface. We think that the latter is partly true because Barbie the doll has been around for 64 years and has been an iconic children’s toy ever since it was created in 1959. This therefore helps us to understand the simply staggering number of people that the Barbie franchise has influenced over the years through the doll line, the cult aesthetic or the amazing animated movies – 2011-2015 only, the rest deviated from Barbie lore too much and were frankly unwatchable in my opinion.
Bringing Barbie To The Present
Now more than ever, conversations about feminism and gender equality are mainstream news, and in her own special way, Barbie has helped to redefine feminism and is herself a feminist icon. As you may already know, Barbie has famously been a doctor, the president of the United States and even an astronaut, but she’s had more than 200 impressive careers so far and inspired countless young girls to follow in her footsteps. Mattel’s depictions of Barbie have given girls some much-needed representation, reminding them that they’re able to achieve whatever goals they wish and thrive in stereotypically ‘masculine’ jobs that aren’t usually done by women.
Often, Barbie was pursuing careers that had been denied to women in real life, while still maintaining her flawless image, dispelling the notion that women had to choose between being glamourous or successful. Even Barbie’s iconic dreamhouse was a feminist symbol. Introduced in 1962, when women in the United States still couldn’t legally manage their finances without a co-sign from a man, Barbie had an outrageously bright pink house that screamed it was owned by a woman. Simply put, Barbie was ahead of her time, living her own life independently, without the help or assistance of a man.
However, Barbie’s looks also helped create a false narrative about what she stood for. She became synonymous with the highly desired ‘fake’ look that could only be achieved through extensive plastic surgery, and her image was co-opted as an impossible beauty standard for decades. Despite the character’s obvious ambition and work ethic, the most widely accepted current idea about being Barbie-like is that Barbies are shallow, vacuous and more concerned about image than important issues.
The Barbie Film Marketing Team Deserves A Raise!
The marketing surrounding the release of Barbie will most likely go down in history as one of the greatest ever examples of creating anticipation for a movie. Mattel and Warner Brothers have done this by keeping the plot ambiguous, subverting expectations by having a large, diverse cast and leaning into nostalgia, allowing it the do all the work and help set the tone. From the iconic ‘This Barbie is…’ campaign, to turning billboards pink, these key prompts have clearly been kept in mind when thinking about marketing strategies, but they almost pale in comparison to the phenomenon that is ‘Barbenheimer’.
This refers to the release of Barbie coinciding with the release of Universal Studios’ Oppenheimer, and the contrast between the content of the two films. While both are already being tipped as Oscar contenders, the cast and fans have leaned heavily into supporting both pieces of work instead of setting them up as rivals. This has led to dozens of frankly fantastic combining the two movies’ greatly juxtaposing aesthetics and vows to watch both on opening day.
Overall, it’s safe to say that the upcoming Barbie film has as much hype as it does because of the overwhelming amount of nostalgia surrounding it. It has become a powerful expression of female creativity, with a woman-heavy cast, a female director and female producer in protagonist, Margot Robbie. In addition to this, Greta Gerwig’s inclusive and diverse casting has made Barbie feel more accessible to modern audiences, so ‘This Barbie…’ can truly do and be anyone.