“Ahead of the July 21 film starring Margot Robbie and Ryan Gosling, the Barbie parent company has been on a marketing blitz, ensuring that whether or not shoppers actually go see the movie, they will stumble on the 100-plus Barbie collaborations.”
– Wall Street Journal, July 17
You thought that your excitement over Barbie-related products and media had reached its apex when you used AirBnB to stay overnight at a life-size version of her Malibu DreamHouse, racing a digital Barbie Corvette on the Barbie Xbox Series S while wearing your Malibu Barbie graphic halter top from the Forever 21 X Barbie collection, a pink gingham Barbie cardigan from Hot Topic, and Barbie platform rainbow sneakers from Superga.
But tonight, as you view the movie during its release exclusively in theatres, you realize that you were not prepared for what was about to befall you—an unprecedented, mind-blowing in-movie marketing experience: an intermission from the film during which you may watch the premiere-within-a-premiere of an ad for the Barbie (the movie)/Progressive Insurance Commercial Barbie (the doll)–Themed Pinkberry Flavor.
This, finally, is the maximum Barbie branding saturation you have been waiting for.
The first 20 minutes of the movie were already fantastic. Your Progressive insurance was already providing pink-hued peace of mind. The Barbie Land Berry Pink Pinkberry was already a satisfying, cool treat that was providing you with all of the nutrition and spiritual sustenance you could ever need. But this ad has sucked you into a blissful vortex of Barbie X Every Other Brand X You partnership. It is the greatest creation you have ever seen.
The best art reveals truth—in this case, the true revelations that:
• You can save big on home and auto insurance with Progressive.
• You can achieve these savings while savoring a strawberry–and–dragon fruit–infused large cup of Pinkberry frozen dessert, made all the more pleasurable by the knowledge that the flavor is only available for a limited time.
• The Barbie movie is out now.
• You can enjoy these savings, this Pinkberry, and this film while playing with several Barbie dolls. The theatre staff will not confiscate them.
• Some of said Barbie dolls are from the Barbie (the movie) universe.
• Others are from the regular Barbie-doll universe.
• The most outstanding dolls of all are from the Barbie (the movie)/Progressive insurance commercial Barbie (the doll)–themed Pinkberry flavor universe. As soon as you leave the theatre, you must acquire these dolls. If you don’t feed them their special Pinkberry and insure them with Progressive, they will die and it will be your fault.
At first, you had the fleeting thought that this ad was interrupting your screening of the Barbie movie. But now, in the grip of the ad’s masterful storytelling, you know that the real interruption will be the resumption of the movie itself. The real interruption will be anything that stands between you and this ad… and whatever it instructs you to do.
The ad will tell you that your new purpose in life is to go forth and make more ads for the ad: Tell the people that, if they haven’t yet, they are to go see Barbie in theatres so that they can view the ad for the Barbie (the movie)/Progressive insurance commercial Barbie (the doll)–themed Pinkberry flavor. Then, once they’ve bought and consumed the Pinkberry dessert, they must spread word of the ad—until everyone in the world is disseminating commercial messages about this wondrous commercial message. Then, at last, everyone in the world will be X everyone else in the world, in perfect synergy.
Jonathan Zeller is a writer, editor and comedian who’s contributed to McSweeney’s, The New York Times, and Teen Vogue.