The more I think about it, the more the 5 minute car commercial in Barbie bugs me.

It’s like in a music video when the artist suddenly pulls out the new Samsung explosive device, and your heart sinks a little.

Not only is it necessary for even decent movies to be packaged within some IP, they also seem to rely on selling ad space within the movie itself.

Very bleak.


Honestly this is every car chase in every high profile movie.

They somehow stay very clean and shiny the whole time.

tox_solid, avatar

That’s an extra feature they try to up-sell you at the dealership.

SturgiesYrFase, avatar

Then there’s Dr Strange, where no car company wanted to have him crash and severely injure himself in their car. But Lamborghini was like: Well…he lives right? Here take 3!


It was Strange’s fault anyway


Until they roll, at which moment the engine, gearbox and driveshaft magically disappear.

Gaybees, avatar

I think the issue you have is with capitalism. Artists don’t know with any level of certainty if their movie, music video etc will have any substantial return on their investment. So if you’re a studio sinking millions of dollars into something, you want to know that you’re gonna make at least some of that back, and negotiating ahead of time for a sponsored segment can help guarantee at least a small return. This is made much worse by the downturn of the movie industry in America with record low movie tickets being sold. It’s just becoming less and less feasible to make money from movies (and music/music videos for that matter but they’re a much different type of media) these days.

If people were able to make art for arts sake, not have to worry about people paying for it, being able to pay rent etc. then I think this would disappear almost entirely.

GCostanzaStepOnMe, avatar

“It’s capitalism” is an unsatisfying explanation because one the one hand it’s sort of trivially true, but on the other, good movies have been made under capitalism. Hindsight’s 20/20, but I don’t really buy that the execs didn’t see a massive ROT on Barbie beforehand, given it’s prestige, cast, director etc. I understand that some cruddy network TV show or “Tetris the movie” or whatever have to fall back on advertising to cover their costs, but this one? Seems entirely unnecessary, even more so considering the artistic cost it came along with.

The bleak thing is not advertising per se, which we are used to, but advertising in movies that seem far too big for it. And then of course crass, embarrassing way it was implemented here.

Gaybees, avatar

I think you’re focusing too much on the ROI and and not the distinction between projected ROI and a guaranteed one. They can expect to make a return, but the cannot do so with any degree of certainty. Whereas with a sponsored segment, that is guaranteed money before the movie even opens.

And you’re correct, good movies have been made under capitalism. Good movies are also made with sponsored segments. I’m arguing that they’re good despite the pressures of capitalism, not because of it.

I mean look at Elemental, huge, expensive production, one of the biggest animation houses in America with a history of incredible and influential work, huge media and ad campaigns and yet… it was a flop (at least domestically). I’m sure they expected to make a lot more money than they did.

The true evil is often banal.


“It’s capitalism” is an unsatisfying explanation because one the one hand it’s sort of trivially true, but on the other, good movies have been made under capitalism.

But you went to watch a blockbuster. These are made to make money above all else. You just aren’t the target demographic.


Who the fuck actually wants to watch this movie? Looks retarded at best.

jordanlund, avatar

It’s surprisingly deep for a movie based on a toy. It has quite a bit to say beyond all the obvious product placement.

Steve, avatar

You should watch Josie and the Pussycats! Great movie!


… The absurdity of the hyperconsumerism displayed in both worlds via blatant advertisementsts is kind of the point, to illustrate the importance of refinding humanity and sincerity for cynical adults tired of the state of the world.

Ugh. This is dangerously close to breaking strike rules, but I thought this was pretty obvious…

GCostanzaStepOnMe, avatar

Margot Robbie the only true postmodern actor in Hollywood.


Close, but not quite right, since this is more of an explicit rejection of postmodernism and nihilism idea of “nothing matters” in general, that it’s important to find the things do matter even in a world as depressing as ours is, and to believe that things can change.

It’s the importance of being sincere.

GCostanzaStepOnMe, avatar

Nothing more sincere than raking in millions shilling for the auto industry and calling it a critique of consumerism.


I think you are still missing the point. This is the exact type of postmodern cynicism and despair I was talking about.

I would encourage you to look up the concept of New Sincerity and relate it to what you’ve seen in the movie, but other than that, you’ll have to figure it out for yourself.

That’s all I can do for you. You will either break free of the cynicism and despair, or be consumed by it. So, I wish you well.


Cynicism and despair is the wave of the future. I can’t wait to be plugged into the matrix where I’ll do some form of digital work for the cost of a flavorless nutrient paste tube.

aebrer avatar

This also came across well whenever someone tossed clothing off the railing.


And the Mojo Dojo Casa House ‘selling like hotcakes.’ And the CEO pooh-poohing a ‘regular barbie’ before immediately reversing course when he’s told it’ll be super profitable.

Honestly it’s got shades of the Charlie Brown Christmas Special, that weird dichotomy of Charlie Brown depressed by the rampant consumerism of the holiday season bookended by Hallmark ads with the new peanuts ornaments. But the lesson the special teaches is to find your own meaning in the holiday, and that it is inviolable by the consumerism so long as it still means something else to you.


I’m glad that you got it exactly right. ☺️


There are so many good conversations going on in that movie, everyone I talked to who had watched it said it was good but I was not prepared for just how many topics it covers so artfully. And god, I could listen to Ferrera’s monologue over and over again.


Product placement has been a part of the entertainment industry forever. Eg: Twister was an advertisement for the new redesign of the Dodge Ram.


It weirdly made me miss the old Jeep Comanche truck more.

WintLizard, avatar

They had that bit advertising birkenstocks as well. It always takes me right out of the movie.


I’m sure that was less weird when it was made.

drcouzelis, avatar

Which scene is that? I can’t remember.


same here


maybe it was when the mom rescued Barbie from the board of directors?

drcouzelis, avatar

I just rewatched it. I didn’t see a “5 minute car commercial”. I saw a five minute car chase with humor and dialog that advanced the characters.

But all of the cars are Chevrolet brand. Is that the issue? I’m so confused! This is like the most minor “ad” I’ve seen in a movie.

I wonder what OP thinks of Olive Garden in Sonic the Hedgehog… 😅


Maybe OP thought that the car chase happened so that they can make an ad for Chevrolet. (Which could be true, and I think had happened to other movies.)

But I think what usually happens is the car chase is already in the script and the production reached out to car brands that are interested in sponsoring the movie. Then adding some glorious shots where the brand is obviously visible and the center of focus to accomplish the advertisement and gain revenue.

jordanlund, avatar

You went to a movie that’s an advertisement for a plastic doll accessory universe and… you’re upset it has product placements? 🤔

GCostanzaStepOnMe, avatar


Edit: Even if you want to be reductive and consider the entire movie as just a big brand advertisment, this doesn’t make sense. Does Burger King subsidize their commercials by running Samsung Ads within them?

Edit2: This is probably a bad retort, see my other comments for clarification.

FoxBJK, avatar

BK made a Spiderman hamburger. Does that count?

GCostanzaStepOnMe, avatar

Not really to the point I was trying to make here.

FoxBJK, avatar

I understand your point, but a movie that is itself a 2-hour advertisement doesn’t lose any of its value by showing other brands.

What’s bleak is that a movie about a toy grosses over a billion at the box office. Not that BMW or Samsung want you to look at their stuff.

GCostanzaStepOnMe, avatar

This critique irks me for some reason. Consider this: Imagine the latest Top Gun had some scene where Tom Cruise literally high fives Uncle Sam, then slowly whispers “Freedom” and winks into the camera. You’d rightfully find this jarring, a poor aesthetic choice, weird.

But then someone online tells you why you’d expect anything else from a franchise that’s heavily subsidized and supported by the military industrial complex, and demanding a sort of artistic consistency from such a franchise is pointless to begin with.

Tldr: I think you can critique the art even if you’re aware of it’s ideological confines.

(This reply hinges on such a scene not being in the latest Top Gun movie, which I haven’t see yet to be honest)

FoxBJK, avatar

A fair point, but in your original example we’re talking about a cell phone. That’s a significantly more subtle inclusion than Tom draping himself in an American flag and riding off on the back of an eagle.

I don’t remember the scene we’re talking about, so if it was a cell phone in the real world I see no issue. If it was in Barbie’s world then it should’ve been plastic. That would be my only complaint.

Gaybees, avatar

It might not be as obvious as literally winking into the camera, but Top Gun had substantial monetary investment from the U.S. military, and they definitely tried to make being in the military look cool and fun and attractive.

They definitely don’t show what it’s really like to be a service member, and that’s for good reason.

GCostanzaStepOnMe, avatar

Yeah that’s kind of my point. Even knowing it’s partial propaganda, you’d know when something is “off”. Just like even knowing that Barbie is partially a branding campaign, You know how the car comercial scene is “off”.

Gaybees, avatar

I guess what I’m saying is I don’t see either top gun or Barbie movie as “partial propaganda”, I see them as entirely propaganda. So, at least for me, having some additional propaganda for Samsung phones or car brands doesn’t seem out of place or jarring for me.

It’s honestly more jarring for me to see how the military is portrayed compared to what it’s actually like.


Does Burger King subsidize their commercials by running Samsung Ads within them?

Cross-Promotion definitely exists. In the US, a lot of iPhone ads are paid for by the carriers so they can put a blurb at the end.

Burger King is actually a weird example for you to use. They use cross-promotion more than almost any other company.

BK was also a leader in cross-promotion. In 1977, they ran commercials using Star Wars advertising while selling glasses with the characters from the film.

Movie studios have been using paid promotions for products since the 90s. Iirc the very first paid movie tie-in was in ET. The studio had planned on using M&Ms in the film but were rejected by Mars. Hershey’s heard about this and paid them to instead use Reese’s Pieces in the movie.

It’s fair to hate it, I usually do, but it happens all the time. The only one I can think of that I liked was 30 Rock, especially with their Snapple product placement.


Community’s Subway arc was pretty good too, IMO.

teft, avatar

You’re a level 7 susceptible.


I have a rule about being constructive, so I can’t ask any questions right now because all the questions that I have right now are rhetorical and they end with the word idiot.

Do you know what a rhetorical- No, of course you don’t know what that is, you’re an idiot.

I’m sorry! I am so sorry, but you’re so stupid. You have no idea, and you’re the only one who has no idea, because guess why?

Don’t answer that. You’ll get it wrong. Aw, so dumb. You’re just a dumb little man who tries to destroy this school every minute.

teft, avatar

Please hand me my jacket.


Okay, yeah, that too.


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