Life in Plastic, It’s Fantastic

AKA Why you should love the marketing around this summer’s unexpected blockbuster lineup

Whether you love her, hate her, or fall anywhere in between, when it comes to Barbie there’s no escaping her this summer. It’s been a rough few years for summer blockbusters, with theatrical attendance still way down courtesy of the Covid-19 pandemic. But this summer, the dual releases of Greta Gerwig’s Barbie movie and Christopher Nolan’s Oppenheimer created an unlikely double-header phenomenon that helped revitalize the summer blockbuster. And the marketing around both films, but Barbie in particular, has been some of my personal favorites in a long time!


Starting with the obvious – the pairing of a serious, historical drama with Mattel’s iconic girl’s girl is a little…weird. In theory there’s not much overlap between the two. And yet since the release dates were set for the same weekend, the online hype built. #BarbieHeimer (or #BarbenHeimer depending on your preference) has been an inescapable meme, especially on Tiktok. And the teams around both films have leaned into it. 

Barbie star and director Margot Robbie and Greta Gerwig posed for promotional pictures with their tickets to Oppenheimer, and in turn Oppenheimer star Cillian Murphy has shared his own excitement over seeing Barbie. To promote ticket sales of both films, IMDb created a mashup “trailer” and released it to boost ticket sales. 

It’s a Barbie world, we’re just living in it

While both movies have benefitted from the unlikely meme, Barbie’s marketing team has also found new and creative ways to drive hype around the upcoming film. The overall approach can best be described as bringing everyone right into the Barbie World. Literally. Here are just a few of the wild stunts this team has pulled off so far:

Bottom Line

I could go on and on about the seemingly endless effort that has gone into creating this memorable promotional campaign (have you seen Margot Robbie’s outfits throughout the promotional circuit?!) Does the film live up to the hype? Based on ticket sales, it seems so. And it is a great reminder that having fun and taking risks in marketing is still the best way to make an impact.