A 'Barbie' movie surprise. Plus, it’s still Amazon Prime Day: Tuesday Wake-Up Call
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What people are talking about today
The upcoming “Barbie” movie could easily have been throwaway branded entertainment. Instead it will be written by two critically acclaimed veterans of the indie film scene, and frankly, we’re having trouble wrapping our heads around this. Greta Gerwig (writer-director of “Lady Bird”) and Noah Baumbach (writer-director of “The Meyerowitz Stories”) will partner on the script of Warner Bros. and Mattel’s upcoming movie, The Hollywood Reporter writes. Margot Robbie is producing and has already been announced as the title character.
So who exactly is the intended audience for a movie about a plastic doll, though with an art-house film sensibility? No idea. But this opens up tantalizing possibilities. Maybe Sofia Coppola will make a live-action L.O.L. Surprise Dolls movie with real psychological depth. And we’d love to see what David Lynch would do with Teddy Ruxpin, the creepy animatronic bear.
Odd collaborations, part 2
If you’re in New York, Chicago or Los Angeles, look out soon for pop-up shops from “T-MoBell,” as in T-Mobile plus Taco Bell. It’s part of the carrier’s push to promote its rewards program; the brands already paired together during the Super Bowl. Ad Age’s George P. Slefo writes that the co-branded stores will open from July 23 to July 25 and offer visitors “T-MoBell” swag, slushies and tacos. Tacos probably aren’t high on the list of what people want from their carriers, but it’s the thought that counts, right?
Shop 'til you drop
It’s still Amazon Prime Day. (Confusingly, the promotional deals last 48 hours, though Amazon refers to it as a “day.”) And this year Amazon is tapping a lot of celebrities, from Kobe Bryant to JoJo Siwa, to join in promoting products during its made-up shopping holiday. Amazon didn't used to do celebs. “It’s amazing how much the needle has moved in the other direction,” Steve Susi, a former Amazon advertising executive, tells Bloomberg News. “We were told that [Amazon CEO] Jeff Bezos resisted celebrity endorsements because it just seemed so inauthentic and un-Amazonian.”
By the way: Amazon is doing exactly what Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba has done for years with Singles Day, its annual Nov. 11 shopping festival, which also uses high-profile stars, a concert, live streaming and deep discounts. In other words, “Amazon Prime Day is a cheap knockoff of Alibaba’s Single’s Day,” Fast Company writes. (We even spotted a cute cat cartoon in some Amazon marketing emails. Alibaba’s platform for consumer brand storefronts uses, yes, a cat mascot.)
Big deal: Private equity firm Blackstone is buying Vungle, an ad tech company, for $750 million in cash, George Slefo reports. For comparison’s sake, that’s way more than the $475 million that Accenture is presumed to have offered up for creative agency Droga5. Vungle, whose clients include the NFL, P&G and Microsoft, is known for its success in getting people to download apps.
Welcome: Now brand marketers will be able to join Fishbowl, Ad Age’s Lindsay Rittenhouse reports. For the uninitiated, Rittenhouse writes, Fishbowl is an “anonymous professional networking app that has gained popularity with agency employees, including as a vehicle to spread rumors.” (And as a place to gossip about bad clients. But marketers who join won’t be able to see those snarky comments.)
Sameness: What does the standard direct-to-consumer brand look like? Ad Age’s Creative Director Erik Basil Spooner nails down the formula: It’s got “product photography where the object of desire is shot isometrically askew; solid background colors that are predominantly neutral; copy that has an ironically familiar tone—and is nearly always set in that eerily similar, playfully bold, geometrically designed sans-serif typeface.” Read his story for more thoughts on typeface trends.
Podcast of the day: Remember the hilarious self-aware Ice-T campaign last year from RXBar? (“Hi. I’m famous. And this is a commercial.”) Another marketing push is coming, along with more surprises, RXBar Chief Marketing Officer Victor Lee says. Listen to his conversation with Ad Age’s Jessica Wohl, and subscribe to the Marketer’s Brief podcast here on Apple, or here on Spotify.
Creativity pick of the day: As a statement, Diet Coke might remove its brand name from some cans sold in stores next year. Ad Age’s E.J. Schultz writes that the effort from Anomaly, called “[unlabeled],” is meant to spark a conversation about “the complexities of labels in today’s society—from the empowering and earned to the unwarranted and imposed,” the brand says. Diet Coke has already distributed some of the cans at events; they’re silver with a colored stripe running down them. Check them out here.
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