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Who could forget the iconic tagline of the Barbie movie: “If you love Barbie, this movie is for you. If you hate Barbie, this movie is for you.” Josh Goldstine kicked off his RESET presentation by talking about this bold move.

“Get comfortable with being uncomfortable”

Goldstine spoke about how, to grow, we have to be willing to go to places that we wouldn’t normally go to. He said, “Hate is certainly not one of those words that as marketers we tend to lean into. But in this case, we really wanted to understand the consciousness of the consumer and courageously go there by recognising the complex history of Barbie’s legacy. One that empowers women but also touches on things like body dysmorphia and female identity. We decided to acknowledge it rather than run away from it.”

In a world full of division, find a way to connect on a human level

One of the concerns that the Barbie marketing team had about the movie was the idea that Barbie would be viewed as “too politically correct” or “too woke”. Goldstine talked about how they tested the movie in a conservative area of Texas to see how it would go down. After America Ferrera’s now infamous monologue about the challenges faced by women today, every woman in the audience erupted into cheers. Goldstine said this ultimately comes down to the fact that “this movie was not about your political affiliations or your religion, it touched on something very deep and universal about what it means to be a woman.”

The “breadcrumb strategy”

As marketers we can become preoccupied with giving our audience exactly what we think they want to see. The Barbie movie subverted this by giving us very little to go off of right up until the day of the movie’s release. They “breadcrumbed” the audience by dropping stills here and there and releasing a trailer that left us all guessing about what the movie was actually going to be about. 

Goldstine said, “We could stoke curiosity by not letting the cat out of the bag and so we were able to create this fervor and curiosity and all this speculation. Driving that opening weekend is about creating the right kind of frenzy and doing it in the most efficient and the most effective ways.”

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