Warner Bros. has triumphed at the box office with its latest film, “Barbie,” marking the end of a year-long streak of disappointing releases. The movie’s $155 million opening weekend propelled it to one of the studio’s top five highest-opening weekends in history. The success also marks the first major box office victory for Warner Bros.
Discovery CEO David Zaslav, who spearheaded the strategic marketing campaign known as “Operation Barbie Summer.”
Under Zaslav’s leadership, Warner Bros. Discovery mobilized all its resources, including those from the recent merger with Discovery, to promote writer-director Greta Gerwig’s unique vision of the iconic doll. The marketing campaign spanned across all the company’s platforms, including those seemingly unrelated to Barbie, like TNT’s coverage of the NBA playoffs and digital integration on websites like CNN.com and Bleacher Report.
Additionally, the film was heavily co-branded with Mattel, and promotions extended to various TV networks, such as an HGTV competition miniseries called “Barbie Dreamhouse Challenge” and a Barbie-themed episode on Food Network‘s “Summer Baking Championship.”
Warner Bros. domestic distribution chief Jeff Goldstein said, “The marketing campaign for this movie is one for the ages, and the result is a movie that has united the world in such a divisive time. It’s a pink unicorn.”
Warner Bros. also took a fresh approach to the traditional tentpole marketing campaign, creating glitzy press tours and photo shoots featuring a pink convertible and Margot Robbie dressed in Barbie-inspired outfits. Ryan Gosling was part of the campaign, discussing “Kenergy” in interviews and featurettes, while self-aware jokes about Barbie added to the film’s appeal.
“Barbie” has not only reaffirmed Warner Bros.’ position at the box office but has also demonstrated the potential of a well-executed multi-platform marketing campaign in the ever-evolving landscape of modern Hollywood.