The Best Barbie PR Hit of Them All
Josh Goldstine, Warner Bros.’ President of Worldwide Marketing, should hang up his spikes and call it a career. The marketing campaign around the theatrical release of BARBIE is one of the all-time great promotional pushes, and the WB team’s efforts have been rewarded with a massive box office return, both nationally and worldwide, and the kind of numbers during the week after release that you simply don’t see for any movie not called TITANIC.
From the giant Barbie boxes you could take photos in, to the endless tie-ins, to Margot Robbie’s parade of Barbie-inspired premiere costumes, the marketing team just nailed it again and again. They smartly leaned into the Barbenheimer double feature phenomenon, and likely prayed for a continuing heatwave. Thanks to Greta Gerwig, Margot Robbie and Ryan Gosling (anyone trying to convince you that Gosling is better than Robbie in the movie is a villain, and I am ready to fight them), but also thanks to WB Marketing’s stupendous work, BARBIE has taken the mantle of “the movie that saved the movies” from TOP GUN: MAVERICK.
But my favorite thing the BARBIE team has done isn’t even marketing per se. It’s a PR hit that I’m confident was seeded and didn’t just happen by accident. On May 30th, Architectural Digest ran a piece on the film’s Barbie Dream House (this article in itself was a brilliant pitch concept) in which production designer Sarah Greenwood claimed that the production used so much pink paint, that there was a worldwide shortage.
This was one of those kind-of-sort-of-true-if-you-cock-your-head-at-a-certain-angle-and-squint kinds of statements. The supply chain had already put a crimp on pink paint production. The 2021 Texas freeze had destroyed key ingredients, etc. So really the Barbie movie had snapped up all the pink paint that was left, which isn’t quite the same thing as causing a global shortage, but whatever. The seed had already been sewn. BARBIE USED UP ALL THE PINK PAINT spread like wildfire. CNN wrote about it. The LA Times wrote about it. Smithsonian Magazine wrote about it! On TikTok & YouTube, videos about the shortage have racked up tens of millions of views. Then the fact checkers rushed in as NPR came out with a skeptical piece claiming that Barbie didn’t *really* use all the paint, and so on and so forth.
This is why this is the best piece of promotion the movie has:
– My parents who have not seen the movie and may not see the movie mentioned it to me.
– My friends in the industry mentioned it to me.
– My friends who are casual movie fans mentioned it to me.
It’s the perfect fun fact that lets literally anyone join in the global Barbie conversation without actually knowing anything about the movie. It’s trivia that requires no knowledge of the product, and has no age, gender, or interest barriers. This little fact seeded into an Architectural Digest article has easily snapped up tens of millions of dollars in earned media. It’s entertainment PR at its absolute finest. Bravo.