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Barbenheimer – From the ridiculous to the sublime

If you haven’t heard of Barbenheimer, where have you been? 

In case you’ve managed to avoid the social media storm surrounding these two film releases, it’s an internet phenomenon that’s taken the marketing world by storm. 

Here we’ll delve into the marketing success of Barbenheimer, the effect it’s had on businesses across the globe and provide you with a quick review of the visual spectacles of Barbie and Oppenheimer.

Genius marketing?

Before I discuss my thoughts on the movies, I’ll examine why Barbenheimer achieved such atmospheric internet fame and discuss its impact on other industries.

Dual Release

Counterprogramming is the official term for the marketing strategy used to release two tonally different films simultaneously, to compete for box office attention. In this case, it favoured Warner Brothers & Universal, with box office earnings far exceeding expectations. It worked for Universal in 2002 with About A Boy, which won out against Star Wars: Episode 2 – Attack of the Clones.

Double Feature Viewing

Usually, an activity confined to the past when films had sub two-hour-plus runtimes. Hollywood figures and the public have embraced both films and viewed them as a double feature, usually with Barbie first followed by Oppenheimer. Margot Robbie, who plays stereotypical Barbie, suggested watching Barbie, Oppenheimer, then Barbie again!

I was one of these people, viewing Barbie first at 5:15pm and getting out of Oppenheimer the same night at 11:30pm. However, I skipped the second viewing of Barbie in favour of sleep.

Barbie Sales

The Barbie marketing spend was a few million more than the cost of production. With all the hype around the film it had a direct impact on sales of actual Barbie dolls.

Our client Maqio Toys, with the help of our SEO team, claimed a prominent position on page 1 of Google for numerous newly ranking Barbie related keywords, placing them shoulder-to-shoulder with industry giants and increasing overall Barbie related visibility for the brand by 85%. 

When looking Year on Year, Maqio saw a 478% increase in new users, 264% growth in transactions and a revenue growth of 314% associated with Barbie related search terms.  

Snapshot Reviews

I’m no film review expert, I’ll leave that for Mark Kermode. These are just my thoughts and opinions which may differ from yours.

Also, spoilers.


Is it going to win any Oscars, no. Will it entertain you, yes.

The casting is great, Margot Robbie naturally falls into the stereotypical Barbie role with ease. Ryan Gosling had fun portraying a musclebound, emotionally immature Ken. Plus, who better to play a whiney, “I’m-in-charge” CEO than comedic legend Will Ferrel?

The story can get confusing in parts, a lot of back and forth between empowerment for women and stereotypes. 

Ken also suffers the same fate by seeking constant approval from Barbie – is it a reverse of women seeking approval from society and men in particular, or a stereotypical approach to men asking for their partners’ approval?

The opposing social views are littered with comic relief in many forms, mainly those that a younger audience won’t understand. Think of watching Toy Story as an adult.

I appreciated the attention to detail in Barbie Land where everything is supposed to be fake, like a toy. The background scenery looks like the scenes you saw on toy adverts as a kid, fake sea and sand and stickers instead of actual objects in fridges and ovens.

Overall I enjoyed it, laughing aloud frequently and enjoying the performances of the actors. It needed a more cohesive storyline, especially towards the end, it lost me and I became uninterested. 


A completely polar opposite experience to Barbie, that’s the point of the counterprogramming.

I’m a fan of Christopher Nolan’s filmmaking, this was no exception. Going into it knowing that CGI wasn’t used, made me appreciate the effort the VFX team must have gone to, to get some of the amazing shots in the film.

With a runtime of 3 hours, I thought time would drag, but I was pleasantly surprised with how well-paced the story was. It wasn’t too fast to miss details nor too slow to lose interest.

Colour and lack thereof was a clever way to distinguish the past from the ‘present’, using black and white for the latter where traditionally it’s used to highlight the past or a flashback.

Some might feel underwhelmed by the eventual detonation of the Trinity Project A-Bomb, but remember that the film is called Oppenheimer, it’s a portrayal of his life and scientific achievements. 

That said, that scene was cleverly crafted, using light and sound to cement the viewer in the experience of what a nuclear detonation actually feels like.

Cillian Murphy was excellent, as were his co-stars. They showed raw emotion and passion for what their real-life counterparts believed, for good or bad. You might forget Robert Downey Jr is in the picture until you start to see some of the signature looks and head tilts of Tony Stark.

Fans of Nolan will be pleased to know that speech is more audible than some of his other works. Although they were intentional, some fans were left, deaf. This film uses sound expertly to make you feel and experience the world and mind of Oppenheimer throughout his career in theoretical physics and doubts over the military use of nuclear weapons.

A fantastic film that’s worth the watch, especially at the cinema where you can hear and feel the impact of the audio – it won’t be the same watching it on Netflix at home.


The same marketing techniques can apply to Digital Marketing. We see it all the time on Twitter (sorry, X) when big brands poke fun at each other. 

Not only could you find a way to promote your products or services alongside something completely different, but also piggyback onto the marketing budgets of big brands to boost your position.

From improving your search rankings to boosting exposure, we’ve got the know-how to take your online presence to new heights. Get in touch today and let’s start making some magic happen!

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