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Growing up in the late 90s, I, like many others, hesitated to admit that my favorite color was pink owing to the stereotypes associated with it- pink was often seen as a symbol of vulnerability and innocence. However, the emergence of the recently released movie, Barbie, has challenged these preconceptions, and it’s safe to say that it marked a turning point in the perception of the color pink.

This transformation in the entertainment industry is emblematic of a broader shift in the way movies and shows are branded. The advent of the internet has revolutionized the entertainment industry, leading to a shift away from traditional box office metrics, and towards a pursuit of virality and engagement across online platforms. Successful movies and shows now hinge on their ability to create and maintain a strong brand presence.

Branding, particularly through the use of color, has become a pivotal factor in capturing the hearts and minds of viewers. Films like Barbie, along with shows like La Casa De Papel (aka Money Heist) and Squid Game exemplify this trend visibility through the rise of “Barbiecore” aesthetics. These productions have changed the way we experience movies, akin to participatory theater where audiences immerse themselves in the brand universe.

For instance, La Casa De Papel used symbols like the color red to convey passion and revolution, Dali’s mask as an homage to its Spanish creators, and the iconic Bella Ciao anthem to solidify its brand identity. Similarly, Squid Game employed an iconic soundtrack, tracksuits, and symbolic elements, along with distinctive masks bearing symbols like triangles, circles, and squares as found on the game conductors’ masks as well as the show’s logo.

This comprehensive branding strategy created a brand that deeply resonated with its audience. The show’s haunting and unforgettable theme music, which also gained popularity on TikTok, became synonymous with the series, and added to its distinctive brand identity. In the case of Barbie, audiences demonstrated their immersion by donning pink attire and accessories when going to see the film, vividly underscoring how these productions inspire audiences to actively engage with and become an integral part of the brand’s world.

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For examples of holistic approaches to branding within this industry, we can turn to the works of directors like Wes Anderson. His attention to detail, from cinematography to color palette, consistent camera angles, pastel palettes, and uniquely placed props, all contribute to reinforcing the brand image. The example of his movie, The Grand Budapest Hotel, with its meticulously designed pink details and iconic props, a testament to the creative work of Annie Atkins, showcases the power of such branding.

Moreover, recent productions like the Netflix show, AlRawabi School for Girls, have continued this trend, emphasizing the significance of the color pink in their branding, which is evident through elements such as the school wall colors, bathroom tiles, uniforms, and more. This also highlights how branding is not limited to Western cinema- the Arab world is also making strides in integrating branding into its content, with promising results.

Given that we are in an era when film competes with the internet, where box office numbers are pitted against virality, the entertainment industry has shown, if done right, that it can achieve both. Brands across industries can learn from this by being consistent, bold, and forward-thinking. By experimenting with symbols and understanding cultural discourse, brands can predict what will resonate with their audience.

The entertainment industry’s success in integrating branding into its content has reshaped the way we consume entertaining media. Brands that embrace consistent, trendsetting branding will find it easier to engage their audience, just as the movies and shows of today have done. As the media and entertainment industry evolves, so too should brands, harnessing the power of storytelling and symbolism to create lasting connections with their audience.

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