Move over Batman, there’s a new hero in town. And no one could be more surprised than me.
I didn’t grow up loving Barbie. My cousins had all the things, so I got my fair share of time in when we’d have sleepovers. As for me, I was way more into sports, getting dirty playing outside and in my young, little mind, not caring about looking like an hourglass-shaped blondie.
When I heard about the movie coming out earlier this year, I was intrigued — mainly by the cast – both the women and the men. I love comedies with Kate McKinnon and Will Ferrell. And on top of that, you have Margot Robbie, Ryan Gosling, Helen Mirren and Michael Cera? Star-studded. As I saw teasers for the movie, I figured it was going to be a kitschy take on the Barbieworld that I’d catch from my couch once it moved over to the small screen. Then the premieres happened. And the social dialogue ramped up. And I realized immediately if this was a statement on what the world looked like with women running the show, I wanted to see it – as quickly as possible.
At the time of the opening, my 17-year-old daughter was traveling in Germany on a soccer exchange trip. I wanted to wait for her to get back so we could go see this ultra-femme cultural event together. When she arrived back in the States, I was surprised that she was eager to go, so we quickly got a plan together to see the box office hit.
This movie has so many subtexts, no wonder it’s making bank.
My daughter’s desire to see this movie with me was on the premise of it being a mother/daughter film. So while I was interested in the female empowerment context of the movie, she was interested in the mother/daughter storyline it offered. It seems like there’s a little something for everyone with Barbie.
It was weeks after the premiere, and tickets were still selling out. My daughter secured our tickets early in the day and reminded me of the dress code: must wear pink. So that night, I left work, changed into my one pink shirt and set out for a fun mother/daughter night. I didn’t quite realize the impact a movie about a doll that neither one of us really ever played with was about to have on us both.
Billion Dollar Baby
I laughed. I cried. I laughed a little more. But probably not as much as Warner Brothers and Mattel, who are likely laughing and crying tears of joy all the way to the bank. The box office keeps growing in a time when people haven’t really been going to the movies. Barbie has earned over $1 billion. Barbie has beat out Christopher Nolan’s Batman – also a Warner Brothers hit. And Barbie is a brand that simply cannot be ignored.
Why is this film different? I don’t think it’s because a woman directed it on her own (although that’s really cool). I believe it’s because the movie strikes a chord with women from all walks of life…women who loved Barbie from the time they were 6 years old, women who abhorred Barbie for her unattainable figure, women who continued to wish gender roles were not so definitive, women who grew up knowing that Barbie’s motto is “you can be anything” and women who learned this motto by watching the movie.
As a marketer, a watcher of all things culture and a mom, there are a few things about this movie that can’t be ignored. Women have spending power. Women have men and non-binary people who support the dream of being anything you set your heart out to be. Women can defy all odds, especially when they support one another.
The world is watching, by the billions. And if your brand is one that focuses on women as your primary or secondary audience, well, you should be watching, too.
If you want to better connect your brand with your audience, send me a note. We’d be tickled pink to help.