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Setting New Standards in Movie Marketing: The 'Barbenheimer' Approach

Both box office hits, Barbie and Oppenheimer, developed marketing strategies that attracted attention, leaving a significant imprint on the industry. Behind their engaging audience campaigns lay invaluable insights from Pathmatics Explorer, a powerful platform that unveils the story of their marketing success.


Achieving success in movie marketing requires bold and decisive actions, and the 'Barbenheimer' effect has risen to the occasion, setting unprecedented standards with two recent movie releases. 

Both box office hits, Barbie and Oppenheimer, developed marketing strategies that attracted attention, leaving a significant imprint on the industry. Behind their engaging audience campaigns lay invaluable insights from Pathmatics Explorer, a powerful platform that unveils the story of their marketing success.

When we researched the success of the ‘Barbenheimer’ twin movie release, Pathmatics Explorer provided a treasure trove of data. This data revealed several insights, including the allocation of ad spend as well as the performance of media mix, and marketing channels. Using this information, as marketers, we were able to unravel the intricate details of Oppenheimer and Barbie's marketing efforts and gain a deeper understanding of their strategic decisions.

Let's dive into the business perspective of these marketing efforts, analyzing what was spent, what was earned through that spend, and how they stack up against each other.

Budget Allocation: Oppenheimer vs. Barbie

Both Oppenheimer and Barbie allocated hefty budgets for their marketing campaigns, with Oppenheimer spending an estimated $11M USD and Barbie not far behind with $10M USD from June 27-July 27. However, each approach to budget allocation varied significantly.

Oppenheimer took a strategic route, investing 71 percent of its budget on YouTube and OTT platforms. Both YouTube and OTT platforms proved essential for reaching video-consuming audiences, generating significant impressions. Spending on Instagram and Facebook followed, with a combined 29 percent of the ad spend, proving effective in generating impressions despite a relatively lower allocation.

On the other hand, Barbie focused primarily on Instagram, allocating 36 percent of the ad spend to this platform. The effectiveness for Instagram advertising was impressive, with 45 percent of the impressions coming from this channel. OTT platforms followed closely behind, receiving 21 percent of the ad spend, suggesting that the Barbie team recognized the value of reaching direct consumer profiles on these platforms.

Impression Analysis: Efficiency of Marketing Spend

When it comes to efficiency, both brands found success on specific platforms. Oppenheimer's Instagram strategy was fruitful, accounting for 22 percent of their impressions, despite receiving only 11 percent of the ad spend. Facebook showcased a similar trend, with impressions accounting for double the percentage of the amount spent.

In comparison, Barbie's standout performing channel was also Instagram, with an impressive 45 percent of impressions coming from just 36 percent of the spend. This indicated a highly efficient use of funds on the platform. On the other hand, OTT platforms showed potential for impact, despite displaying a less-than favorable spend-to-impression trend. The data demonstrates that 32 percent of the budget was invested in OTT advertising, yet it contributed to only 15 percent of the overall impressions. This emphasizes the necessity for a more precise alignment between OTT spending and the corresponding impressions to ensure optimal marketing efficiency.

Movie Release and Marketing Strategy

The timing of marketing activities leading up to a movie release can significantly impact its success. Both Oppenheimer and Barbie intensified their marketing efforts before their respective movie releases on July 21st.

In the 23 days preceding the release, both movie teams diligently activated their marketing machinery to create a buzz and build anticipation among their target audiences. Through social media teasers, engaging trailers, exclusive behind-the-scenes content, and captivating posters, they left no stone unturned in capturing the attention and interest of moviegoers.

However, what truly sets apart these successful movie marketing strategies was their ability to maintain momentum even after the shows were released. This is precisely where the astute marketing prowess of Barbie continues to shine. While many might have considered their job done post-release, the Barbie team adopted an unyielding approach, continuing to promote the movie on their well-established platforms - Instagram and YouTube.

Barbie - Oppenheimer - chart2

On the other hand, the Oppenheimer marketers, while successful in building anticipation leading up to the release, took a different approach post-launch. They scaled back their marketing activities, possibly assuming that the movie's initial buzz would be enough to carry it forward. While this strategy may have been driven by various factors such as budget constraints or a different marketing roadmap, it does underscore the importance of maintaining a consistent marketing presence to keep the audience engaged.

The success of 'Barbenheimer' in keeping the spotlight on each studio’s films is a testament to the power of strategic marketing, ensuring that a movie remains firmly in the spotlight even amidst the clamor of new releases. 

As other businesses seek to conquer their own marketing landscapes, they can draw inspiration from these movie marketing powerhouses and adopt a relentless approach to extend their moments of glory long after the credits roll.

How to Unlock Marketing Success: Key Takeaways for Businesses

  • Know Where Your Audience Hangs Out: Oppenheimer's decision to not advertise on TikTok due to its younger audience, and Barbie's focus on Instagram to target a more mature audience, demonstrates the significance of understanding the target demographic and selecting appropriate channels.

  • Make Very Intentional Platform and Channel Decisions Based on Marketing Data: YouTube and OTT platforms proved essential for both brands, directly reaching video-consuming audiences. Instagram and Facebook demonstrated a favorable spend-to-impression ratio, making them effective marketing options. Using quality data to understand your audience and competitors will help build winning strategies.

  • Timing Matters: Intensifying marketing efforts leading up to a movie release (or product launch, brand refresh, feature expansion, etc.) and sustaining them afterward can significantly impact overall success.

  • Keep Track of Ad Spend and Performance Across Channels: Analyzing impressions against channel spend allocation can help you determine the effectiveness of your overall marketing mix and  spend so you can make informed decisions for future campaigns.

As the competitive world of marketing continues to evolve, the Oppenheimer and Barbie marketing strategies serve as guiding lights, offering insights into ad spend allocation, channel selection, and timing. By learning from their successes and incorporating these key takeaways, other brands can position themselves for blockbuster business triumphs. Take a cue from 'Barbenheimer' and unlock the secrets of successful movie marketing with Pathmatics Explorer. Remember, in the world of marketing, it's not just about the glitz and glamour of the movies; it's about understanding your audience and choosing the right stage to shine.

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Ally Beiswanger

Written by: Ally Beiswanger, Content Marketing Strategist

Date: August 2023