13 July 2023

It’s Barbie world

This summer is, it’s firmly a #Barbie World… and we’re all living in it.
Kat Jackson
Head of Client Services

Ready your #kenergy and dust off the Dream House…

Ready your #kenergy and dust off the Dream House…

…you would have to be living underground not to have been exposed in some fashion to the Barbie hype so far
This season, the colour is firmly pink – even if production caused a worldwide shortage of the paint shade (great PR fact). And from buses to Twitter to real world Malibu AirBnB rentals, you can’t escape that the film is coming. Here’s some top reasons why, even if you were into GI Joe or Care Bears back in the day, the Barbie hype is spreading like sunshine

1 - All out positive nostalgia

Look, even if 90+ minutes watching a fantasy toyland/ real world mash up packed with cameos doesn’t work for you, so far everything about this film points to it being a proper unabashed celebration of childhood toy obsession.
There’s even a character based on the Barbie that gets a bad haircut and is, well, played with a little too much. There’s something truly compelling about being taken back to your childhood, when imagination could run riot and your adulting obligations were decades away, and this film looks to be plugging directly into this energy.
This fusion is precisely why, way ahead of its release, it has already become a massive cultural touchstone and phenomenon. It’s always fascinating when something in pop culture connects on a deeper level with people and resonates out from the screen. The fact that this has been perfectly pitched to connect with social channel amplification, a marketing machine which many major releases haven’t utilised in a while, and a unique tone and look – everything is pulling together to make this a true cultural juggernaut.

2 - It doesn’t punch down – or take itself too seriously

From the trailers and marketing so far, everything about Barbie is poking fun at itself, whether it’s the raft of Kens dancing in synch on a beach or that already iconic shot of Margot Robbie’s feet remaining in stiletto pose. During a period of fraught global issues (more on that in a second), everything about this film is mocking itself and its own source material, rather than focusing on real world issues.
The trailers have also been careful to focus on light-touch, big dumb fun – a much different tone from the very po-faced Oppenheimer (which will still be great, but in pretty grim times a film about nuclear proliferation is unlikely to land as feelgood) or even Mission:Impossible. Tom Cruise takes his own stunts pretty seriously, and so does that footage. Yet, both are set to get a boost from Barbie due to the #barbenheimer effect – doing a double bill of both Nolan and Gerwig, which Mr Cruise has already endorsed as the ‘saviour of cinema’.
Barbie is firmly focused on the fantasy world of Barbie itself, and a culture clash of that idealised doll in real world situations – and it means to make you smile. Speaking of…

3 - Cinema needs a boost – and so do we all

It’s impossible to ignore that even with some really big film box offices recently (looking at you, Super Mario) many cinemas continue to struggle. Occupancy of many screens is way down, and it’s not helped by regular headlines about Cineworld’s financial struggles or, sadly, Empire Cinemas going into administration.
This isn’t just a UK issue, and pinning hopes on one big film to remind people that going to the flicks is a pretty great use of your time will only go so far. However, all signs are pointing to this film being a phenomenon like The Greatest Showman – repeat viewing fodder, a cult classic which people will want to keep going back to because of the feelings it encourages. Add to that the current mood of the nation – battered by a pandemic, economic stagnation, constant political upheaval and oh yes, a war in Europe – and 2 hours in a dark room watching something unserious without distractions sounds like a pretty good deal.

4 - Its reminding Hollywood that female-first audiences can be a force to be reckoned with

Every so often a release comes along which gets trumpeted as agenda-setting, set to inspire more content and grow the audience in new, untapped demographics. The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel did it for older audiences, for a while inspiring more movies showcasing older characters.
Barbie is likely to show to the world that once again, films with mainly female leads and audiences can thrive and pack out the screens – the fact it also has a strong camp appeal and potential to crossover to a range of ages is just the cherry on top. Hollywood really shouldn’t need a regular reminder that female-led film can make bank, but for some reason it does. And there’s nothing more stereotypically female-coded than Barbie pink.

5 - Ryan Gosling gets his own power ballad

With Slash from Guns N Roses on guitar duty. You’re welcome, audiences…
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