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Branded Video Lessons from the Success of “Barbenheimer”

Unless you have been living under a rock preparing for an eventual apocalypse, you probably have heard, watched, or at least are tangentially aware of the global box office phenomena of the movies Barbie and Oppenheimer, AKA “Barbenheimer.” In this article, we’ll cover lessons for your branded video and how they apply to your video production services.

Key Lessons from “Barbenheimer” Success

In a time where Cinema has felt like a dying experience, much to the chagrin of many of us here at Covalent, these movies feel like a chance for the “going to the movies” experience to be redeemed. The amount of money they are racking in would also suggest such an outcome (as long as Hollywood takes a hint). Why have these movies resonated so strongly with audiences? Was it genius marketing, great storytelling, or both?

Be Original – Zig when others Zag

In our humble and most certainly subjective expert opinions, it’s a combination of great storytelling by auteur filmmakers, great marketing, and perfect timing of audiences’ need for novelty. Audiences are tired of sameness. Just look at how the long-running and entertaining franchises of Mission Impossible and Indiana Jones have done compared to the two completely original stories of Barbie and Oppenheimer (hint, not great).

Lean Into Your Audience

Smart Marketing Succeeds. The smartest of us probably couldn’t have predicted the meme success of Barbenheimer, but we can see good marketing when it exists.

Barbie leaned into tie-ins with other brands (Airbnb Barbie House, Xbox Controllers, Shareable Social Media Posters, and more). It also embraced the idea of making going to see the Barbie movie an event and tapped into the long-built nostalgia of the brand. Even more importantly, it attracted skeptics of what this movie could be through a parody teaser trailer with an homage to 2001 a Space Odyssey and the clever tagline: “If you LOVE Barbie, this movie is for you. If you HATE Barbie, this movie is for you.

Oppenheimer had a more traditional marketing approach but leaned into the track record of Christopher Nolan’s visuals that feel real (limited visual effect or practically none) and the cinematic, irreplaceable experience of watching a movie shot on IMAX Film in a Premium Large Format Cinema. This, combined with the consequential and controversial topic of creating the first atomic bomb, created audiences’ burning desire to discover what the hype was all about.

Brand Video Production

To harness the power of successful branding, consider investing in brand video production. Great Storytelling is King, and brand video production can help you tell your story effectively.

People Led the zeitgeist of “Barbenheimer.” It will be hard, if not unlikely, to replicate the consumer-led explosion of Barbenheimer memes and discussions that created a lot of buzz around both films. No doubt, the zeitgeist made both films events that must be experienced in the theater, and we think our lives are all richer for it.

Tell A Good Story

Great Storytelling is King. Neither of these movies would have continued to be successful at the box office or in pop culture if it wasn’t for fantastic storytelling from two great visual communicators, Greta Gerwig and Christopher Nolan (not to mention the countless talented collaborators they worked with). The marketing wouldn’t have mattered if the films didn’t pack the goods.


Both films couldn’t be more different. Barbie is a comedy and satire that oozes neon colors and fun. Oppenheimer, a serious and dark biopic centered around an event that changed the world forever. What first would appear to be a scheduled release date that could steal the thunder from one movie or the other, turned out to be a perfect case for counterprogramming. Why see one film when you can see both? Especially when both are good.

Takeaways for you, your clients, or your brand:

We think there is something we can all learn from the success of “Barbenheimer.”

Be Original – Zig when others Zag – Take a Risk and do something different. We know it’s scary but it’s usually worth it.

Lean Into Your Audience – If they want to mash up or play with what you’re doing, let them. Embrace what they like and how they interrupt it. We wouldn’t have “Barbenheimer” without it.

Tell A Good Story – Seriously. Take the time, get creative, and invest in telling good stories and doing it across channels in compelling ways. Quality will stick with the consumers we all want to communicate with.

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