A colorful and dynamic image showing diverse people interacting with nostalgic toys and modern media, illustrating content marketing lessons from Barbie movie.

Content Marketing Lessons from Barbie Movie: How to Create Engaging Branded Podcasts

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Discover Effective Content Marketing Lessons from Barbie Movie to Enhance Your Branded Podcast Strategy

Creating a successful branded podcast is much like crafting a blockbuster movie—it requires deep understanding of your audience, authentic emotional storytelling, and smart content marketing strategies. As the Chief Creative Officer of JAR Audio, I’ve had the pleasure of seeing first-hand how powerful branded content can be. Inspired by the marketing triumph of the Barbie movie, which brilliantly combines nostalgia with modern themes, I’ve gathered insights on what makes content marketing truly resonate with diverse audiences.

I liked to “augment” my daughter’s toys with felt pens, so Weird Barbie and I have remained close over the years. Thrilled for her when her movie blew up all the records for summer blockbusters (along with the patriarchy), I just had to give her a call. I caught up with her while she was vacationing with Ken, Midge, and some of the other stars from the movie on Stereotypical Barbie’s yacht in St. Tropez.

Enjoy!

Collage of emotional scenes from the Barbie movie, illustrating emotional storytelling lessons.

Jen:

So, Weird Barbie – congrats on the success of the film. Was great to see you up on the big screen. I see you still have the red scribble facial tattoo I gave you in grade 2. 

Weird Barbie:

Thanks so much, Jen. Yes indeed – I wouldn’t change a thing. 

Jen:

As you know, I make podcasts with brands now – and I thought The Barbie Movie was an interesting case study for “what works” when it comes to branded content. Would you agree? 

Weird Barbie:

Oh absolutely. When I was doing my Doctorate in Marketing in Honolulu, we looked at ways brands could maximize brand lift by generating great original content. So yeah, I’d say the Barbie movie is “textbook.” It’s culturally and racially diverse, emotionally-driven, nostalgic, and also really cutting edge. 

Jen:

I was slightly surprised that Mattel, the brand behind the Barbie IP, wanted your – let’s call it ‘non-traditional’ take on Barbie featured so prominently in the movie. 

Weird Barbie:

I know, right? It’s like – ‘who let that punkrock girl up in here?’ But, I think it was a strong move on Mattel’s part. It never pays, when you’re a big brand, to take the hardline on fans interpreting your product. If some kids want to give Barbie a haircut and draw stubble on her legs with a Sharpie – then that’s called customer engagement, you know what I’m saying? 

Jen:

Absolutely, Weird Barbie. I couldn’t have said it better myself. Another thing I noticed was that both the moms AND the kids were into the movie. Can you explain the thinking behind that when it comes to content marketing? 

Weird Barbie:

Well, you know, the film is about trying to figure out what it means to be a woman – or a man – living under a sexist system. And guess what? Moms have a lot of experience with that, and they want something different for their daughters and their sons. They’re going to buy their toys from a toymaker who understands this. So in the end, it pays for a brand like Mattel to invest in content that appeals to that intergenerational audience, and that fosters dialogue between parents and kids, or husbands and wives for that matter. Doing so proves their relevance. The script for the film, it’s both very “now” and very nostalgic. 

Jen: 

That’s true. It’s quite hard to categorize. It’s comedic — but also really moving at times. 

Weird Barbie: 

Because audiences are complex. They’re not these monolithic entities full of people who all think and act the same way and only want “more of the same.” They’re full of people. And people contain multitudes. They like to be surprised occasionally.  

Jen:

Ya, they do! You’re so smart, Weird Barbie. Have you ever thought about running for office? 

Weird Barbie:

Oh no – I’ll leave that to President Barbie. She’s got it covered. I’m more thinking of opening a creative agency of some kind. Maybe even making podcasts. I love a good True Crime story. The more twisted, the better. 

Jen:

You’ve always had a bit of a dark side. I remember you spent a year stuck between the wall and the back of the dresser in my basement playroom – and you never even complained. It was almost as though you enjoyed the social isolation and the wolf spiders. And that’s one thing I noticed about the film, too. I mean… it’s directed by Greta Gerwig – who doesn’t shy away from the dark.   

Weird Barbie:

She’s the best. We called her “Honorary Weird Barbie” on set. I love Greta.  

Diverse group of people engaging with nostalgic Barbie toys, highlighting content marketing lessons from Barbie movie.

Jen:

Me too. And so the film touched on all the hard parts about being a girl, or just being human in today’s society. Even the tougher stuff about how Barbie’s teeny little waist, impossibly long legs, and permanently “tippy-toe” feet can feed into the unrealistic expectations placed on women’s bodies. 

Weird Barbie:

Those things are in the movie because those things are real. They’re authentic. They matter. Just like Barbie is real. And she matters.  And Greta’s absolutely fierce on this point. She’s on record as saying she felt like we had to give the counterargument to Barbie due consideration – and not give it “short shrift” but give it real intellectual and emotional power. 

Jen:

And Mattel was open to it? 

Weird Barbie:

According to Greta, she just told Mattel “We have to explore it because it’s a lie any other way – and we can’t make it a lie” – and they heard her. They were apparently incredibly open to it. 

Jen:

And we see the result. “Barbie” raked in a stunning $155 million domestically in its opening weekend and recently joined the $1 billion club in global box office sales. 

Weird Barbie:

I know… it’s surreal. Maybe I can finally afford a proper haircut. Nah… never mind! 

Jen:

So, like, what advice would you give a brand if it was trying to develop an original piece of content marketing? Specifically, what are some content marketing lessons from Barbie movie that brands can apply to creating a podcast?

Weird Barbie:

I would say focus on who your audience is. What they need. Not so much what you want to tell them. And, you know, embrace the haters. Like, be open to discussing the “devil’s advocate” counterargument to whatever it is your brand is offering. At least be aware of it – because guaranteed, half your audience is already thinking about it. So if you don’t tackle these things head-on – you can wind up looking evasive, one-sided, or just plain shallow.

Brand engaging with its audience and addressing criticisms, inspired by Barbie movie.

Jen:

So you’re saying to brands: if you stick your head in the sand, you lose credibility with audiences. But what if I’m a big brand and I’m worried about opening up a can of worms? Are there some cases where I should just stick to the script?

Weird Barbie:

In hostage negotiation, maybe? But in content marketing, no. You want to always be aware that you’re NOT preaching to the converted. You’re dealing with audiences. And audiences have a lot of other choices. So you need to bend over backward, in my case literally, to meet them where they are. 

Jen: 

How do you do that? 

Weird Barbie: 

It’s incredibly important to be self-aware. To acknowledge your bias, and think carefully of all the ways that your company, brand, service, or your line of argument might be perceived by somebody. How whatever it is you’re ultimately selling – however indirectly — might be augmented by fans, used in a different way, or even criticized. Let your content take on a life of its own. And if there ARE criticisms, it’s best to deal with them head-on. It makes you seem smarter, more magnanimous, more secure, and more democratic. Dissenting opinions still count as still engagement, if you know what I mean. 

Jen:

I do. Thanks so much for your time today Weird Barbie. And hey – thanks for all the good times! Keep it weird! 

Weird Barbie:

Word.

If you want to talk more about how to make a branded podcast that embraces the big picture — and places your brand at the centre of a vital conversation — don’t hesitate to reach out to us. We’d love to hear from you.

 

5 Key Takeaways on Content Marketing and Branding Insights from “Weird Barbie”

  1. Authenticity Matters: Emphasizing authentic storytelling in content creation, whether in films or podcasts, resonates more deeply with audiences. Authenticity can drive brand engagement and loyalty by addressing real issues and reflecting genuine experiences.
  2. Audience-Centric Approach: Successful content marketing, including podcasts, should focus on the audience’s needs and interests rather than solely on what the brand wants to convey. Understanding and responding to audience expectations is crucial.
  3. Embrace Diverse Perspectives: Incorporating and addressing various viewpoints, including potential criticisms, enriches the content and can enhance the brand’s credibility and relatability.
  4. Innovative Content Delivery: Like the film’s approach to breaking conventional norms, podcasts should also strive to be creative and innovative, exploring topics in unique ways that captivate and engage listeners.
  5. Impact of Cultural Relevance: Content that taps into current cultural and social dialogues, such as gender roles and expectations, can achieve significant impact and relevance, driving greater audience engagement and brand lift.

By Jen Moss, Chief Creative Officer

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