RF Media Insights

RF MEDIA INSIGHTS NEWSLETTER 7.28.23: Barbie Breaks Records

Jul 28, 2023
RF MEDIA INSIGHTS NEWSLETTER 7.28.23: Barbie Breaks Records

Barbie’s weekend debut has brought in $162 million in the U.S. during opening weekend, making history as the biggest domestic opening ever for a non-superhero film or sequel and as the biggest opening in history for a female director. Directed by Greta Gerwig and starring Margot Robbie as Barbie, the movie sold $356 million in theater tickets globally opening weekend. Fortune Magazine credits the movies success to the “$150-million genius marketing campaign,” which cost five million more than it did to produce the movie!

From clothing lines with brands including Zara, Crocs and Gap, to Barbie Dreamhouses with Airbnb and pink burgers at Burger King, the Barbie movie marketing team has tapped every consumer-facing industry for partnerships, and it has paid off! And not just for the movie – Mattel, the owner of the Barbie toy, experienced a 1.8% increase in the company’s stock Monday morning following the movie’s opening success. While Mattel’s shares have soared 33% in the run-up to the movie, the doll’s new Hollywood stardom isn’t expected to lift the company’s sales until later this year as the toy industry is facing a slump. That said, the movie has already shown an uptick in sales of Barbie items on Amazon.

A big budget definitely helped, but the “genius” that led to the movie’s success is Barbie’s nostalgia, creative advertising, inclusive casting, storytelling and effective audience segmentation. And of course, people are drawn to the fun, yet meaningful storyline that is keeping theater seats full!

Kathy Bloomgarden

CEO, Ruder Finn

A Good Thing Doesn’t Always Need a Rebrand

Google became Alphabet, Facebook became Meta, so Twitter is trying its luck at “X”. The difference? Alphabet and Meta are parent companies, and they didn’t replace the names of their consumer platforms in their rebranding strategies – Google and Facebook still exist! Sometimes a rebrand is necessary for a company that is failing or one that never became mainstream, but when a company is so popular that their products become part of consumers’ everyday speech (think how Twitter users use “retweet” as slang to agree with someone or how Starbucks goers are prone to saying “Venti” to order a large sized beverage) that is not the time to rebrand. To try to keep the company afloat, X has announced that it will offer hefty advertising discounts to brands, including 50% off any new bookings of video ads until July 31.

Social Media’s Quarter-Life Crisis

These last few years have been a horse race for social media platforms looking to get ahead and release the “latest and greatest” offering, but now, according to Axios, every feature has been copied or iterated by rivals, and the only differential factor is these platforms’ philosophies, values and use cases. A strong communications team that can convey the company’s values to the public and a leadership team that holds a company accountable to these values will be critical for these platforms’ success. The focus for these social media companies can no longer be just the “cool tech,” the focus needs to also be on the business.


Newsrooms Decrease in Size Yet Again

Since the year began, numerous media companies have announced cuts, and this month, layoffs are continuing with Hearst Magazines – owner of Cosmopolitan, Elle and Seventeen – announcing that they will cut 41 employees and Entertainment Tonight letting go of less than 20 people. As nearly all news companies, including Bloomberg, LA Times, Fox News, Insider, NPR, Washington Post and more, are decreasing in size, it’s extremely important for comms professionals to stay abreast on where reporters affected by these cuts land (shameless plug for our media moves section below) and ensure that the information they share is valuable and provides a cutting-edge story for reporters who are strapped for time.




Media Moves

  • Michael Brady has been promoted to senior editor at Automotive Dive. He will report on how electric and autonomous vehicles, software, new business models, and policy and regulation are changing the automotive industry.
  • CNN has tapped Piper Hudspeth Blackburn as a breaking news reporter. She was previously with Law360 and before that worked at the Associated Press.
  • Forbes has named Jabari Young as senior editor, ForbesBLK. Young was previously a senior writer at Forbes covering business and before that covered sports business at
  • Adam Sabes has been named digital reporter at FOX News. He joined the network in 2021 as a writer and before that worked as an assistant editor at Campus Reform.
  • Susanna Vogel has joined Industry Dive as a reporter covering healthcare with a focus on staffing and labor. She joins the outlet from Morning Brew, where she was an HR reporter for nearly two years.
  • The Information has tapped Stephanie Palazzolo as a reporter helming a newsletter on artificial intelligence. Palazzolo joins The Information from Insider, where she pioneered its coverage of a new crop of AI startups.
  • Nikki Ogunnaike is the new editor in chief of Marie Claire. She will lead the editorial strategy for print, digital, experiential and social for the publication. She joins the Marie Claire team after nearly three years as senior digital director at Harper’s Bazaar, where she covered culture and style.
  • The Messenger continues to staff its newsroom, this time its financial team:
    • Helen Reis has joined as personal finance editor.
    • Kathleen Howley has joined as personal senior reporter. She has been contributing to Forbes for the last five years, and before that served as editor at large and real estate editor for HousingWire.
    • Lynnley Browning has joined the outlet to run its wealth and power team.
  • Jackie Snow has joined The Messenger as an artificial intelligence and tech reporter. She has previously served as an associate editor, artificial intelligence at MIT Technology Review and worked as an associate video producer at Fast Company.
  • NBC News hires Liz Kreutz as a national correspondent. Kreutz comes from San Francisco’s ABC News outlet KGO-TV Ch. 7 where she held the posts of reporter/fill-in-anchor and weekend morning anchor/reporter.
  • The New York Times has tapped Zachary Small to join its Culture desk as a staff reporter to cover art, technology, video games and other platforms. Previously, Small freelanced for the Financial Times, New York Magazine, NPR, The Nation Magazine and Artsy.
  • NPR has promoted Kelley L. Dickens to deputy executive producer of “Morning Edition.” She joined NPR in 2020 as a supervising producer.
  • POLITICO has added two senior reporters:
    • Melanie Mason has joined the team as senior political reporter covering politics, power and influence in Los Angeles. She was previously a state and national politics reporter at the Los Angeles Times.
    • Jeremy B. White has taken on a new role as a senior reporter covering the intersection of politics and policy in the California legislature.
  • Silicon Valley Business Journal has tapped Andrew Mendez as a reporter covering startup, venture capital, and small business. He spent the past year as a reporting fellow at TechCrunch.
  • Sarah Schweppe has joined Vox as deputy style and standards editor. Previously, Schweppe served as a senior copy editor for BuzzFeed News.
  • Vox has welcomed Paige Blankenbuehler as climate editor. She will lead a team of reporters working to cover the climate crisis with an emphasis on adaptation, accountability, and consequences.
  • The Wall Street Journal has appointed Marie Beaudette as finance coverage chief. In her new role, Beaudette will be responsible for the Journal’s coverage of financial news and manage the team of more than 80 reporters and editors that produces it.

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