Some familiar movies are hitting the big screen in 2023 and allowing us to relive our fondest childhood memories in a new way, but their names alone aren’t what make them successful.

Barbie, The Super Mario Bros. Movie and The Little Mermaid are three new movies that blend nostalgia and pop culture. There’s a lot to learn from how movies are marketed to their audiences and how they mix the old with the new. We’ll be exploring that in this blog.

This Barbie is a social media pro.

The new live action Barbie movie comes out on July 21, and viewers can hardly wait to see it thanks to some nostalgia and strategic marketing. Barbie herself is timeless. She made her debut in 1959, and while she’s since gotten a pay raise, a few airplanes, fancy cars, hotels and more, she continues to find herself in the hands of many young girls and boys. 

The movie’s marketing team created a ton of buzz using a few simple tactics. The first, uniform character posters using the tagline, “This Barbie is…” Once released, social media quickly turned into a Barbie world, with the poster turning into a viral meme. People and businesses everywhere started customizing the graphic and tagline to work for them. You can find some fun examples here. Another tactic for the Barbie movie was to mobilize their cast on social media. Taking advantage of the existing fan base of huge stars like Margot Robbie and Ryan Gosling, they had their cast members post movie trailers and photos of their characters onto their personal social channels. 

Bringing the Barbie World to Your World

Viral content goes viral because it resonates with a large audience, so take the opportunity to join in whenever possible and appropriate. It doesn’t have to be complicated or have a direct tie to your business. Think, “This Barbie works from home,” “This Barbie will help you find your dream home,” or even “This Barbie needs a drink.” With a little creativity, you can find a way to make just about anything relevant to your business. 

Your team may not be famous, but they’ve still got some fans (or at a minimum their moms). Having them share or post about company news on social media will help you drive engagement and reach more people. 

The Rainbow Road from Old to New

The Super Mario Bros. Movie, released on April 6, can teach us a thing or two about innovation and combining the old with the new. Gone are the days of the damsel in distress because Princess Peach can buy her own flowers, and in this movie adaptation of an old video game, she takes the lead. 

From plumbing commercials to a fully functional plumbing website, the movie’s marketing team did a lot to get people racing to the theaters. One thing that stood out to us was their focus on partnerships. They worked with Amazon to turn some of their delivery boxes into question mark boxes from the game, created a Super Mario Bros. background for Alexa compatible devices and more. Prior to the movie’s release, Chris Pratt, the voice actor for Mario, sent out a very relatable tweet to get his audience excited and acknowledge that the movie may be different from what everyone (himself included) is used to. It read, “The official teaser trailer for The Super Mario Bros. Movie is finally here!! After playing the games for years as a kid (and adult), I’m excited to bring Mario to all of you! Enjoy!”

Crossing the finish line.

When using nostalgia in marketing, it’s important to understand that your audiences change. Stories and messages that seemed accurate in the past may need a rewrite, and that’s okay! You can take an idea that evokes happy memories and change it to match the current interests and beliefs of your audience.

Collaborating with other companies as part of your referral program and coming up with relatable content are great ways to gain more business. For example, when introducing a new product or service to a more traditional audience, it may be beneficial to tell them that it’s new to you, as well,  or to remind them of another product that was once new but has since made their lives easier. 

Under the Sea-crets to an effective campaign

The highly anticipated live action remake of The Little Mermaid is set to premier on May 26. Viewers will sing along to songs from their childhoods, and watch as Ariel defeats Ursula and converses with an uncharacteristically thin Flounder. 

The marketers behind this movie capitalized on the beloved songs and arranged for Halle Bailey, the movie’s Ariel, to sing “Part of Your World” during American Idol’s Disney night in Disneyland. They also took advantage of the story’s popularity and repurposed it with a book tie-in. 

A Whole New World For Your Marketing Materials 

Singing a disney song on American Idol’s Disney night in Disneyland is a little on the nose, but what we can take away from this is the power of promotional events. Attending and speaking at events, virtually or in person, is a great way to increase recognition, network with other professionals and show your involvement in your industry or community. Bring your business cards or some branded swag to give to other attendees.

Like any great movie remake, you can give your marketing materials new life. If something you’ve done or created in the past was successful, repurpose it. Turn your blog into a series of social posts, take information from your flier and turn it into a video or break your webinar down into pieces and distribute it over email. Repurposing materials will save you time and money. 

There’s a lot to be learned from movie marketing, but one thing we know is that incorporating nostalgia and pop culture into your marketing strategy is a great way to pull at your customers’ heart strings and reach new audiences. 

It may take a little extra creativity, but Bowe Digital is here to help. We’ll be the Ken to your Barbie, Luigi to your Mario and Eric to your Ariel.

Contact Bradley Erb on our team at to discuss your marketing goals and start putting some of these tactics into action! Learn more about our services at