Quantum Brief

Is The Archies trying to be Barbie?

The Archies is all set for release on December 7 on Netflix. Brands have joined the hype bandwagon with collaborations.

By  Kashmeera SambamurthyDec 7, 2023 12:57 PM
Is The Archies trying to be Barbie?
If one takes a closer look at ‘The Archies’ brand collaborations, don’t the above mirror similarities from Barbie’s marketing playbook? (Image source: LinkedIn)

On December 5, the front page of Times of India (TOI) presented a collaboration between Netflix and boAt Lifestyle which was executed by the Talented agency. In a conversation with Storyboard18, K V Sridhar, global chief creative officer, Nihilent Limited and Hypercollective, hailed the collaboration as a good one.

Not just boAt but Meta and Netflix too partnered to launch an Archies themed sticker pack on WhatsApp to mark the release of the film.

VIP Industries’ Skybags too collaborated with Netflix’s ‘The Archies’ to introduce ‘The Archies Backpack Collection’, a series of backpacks which mixed nostalgia with contemporary fashion.

The list does not end here.

Vistara Airlines welcomed the cast of ‘The Archies’ along with their chosen fans on UK 1964 on a ‘Flight to Riverdale’. Maybelline New York is another brand in line which collaborated to introduce a limited edition pack that contained a Fit me foundation, Colossal bold eyeliner, mascara and tinted blush to give a feel of the Archies era.

Recently, CASHurDRIVE Marketing, a media advertising company released a campaign for the upcoming film where they came up with car skates.

With an ensemble star cast, The Archies is all set to release with a bang on Netflix on December 7. And, the world of brands will continue to express their excitement.

When Barbie released in July and raked in box office collections of $155 million on the opening weekend, it had already entered into 100 brand collaborations.

Let us look at a few examples. Barbie entered into retail, media and health collaborations. Barbie collaborated with Forever21, ZARA, Xbox, Burger King and so on and went on to collaborate with nine media outlets. Barbie, in collaboration with Washington Post, produced a newsletter called Unboxed.

The marketing team of Barbie went on to secure the Malibu mansion that underwent a makeover to become Barbie’s Malibu dreamhouse whereby people could rent for vacations through Airbnb.

If one takes a closer look at ‘The Archies’ brand collaborations, don’t the above mirror similarities from Barbie’s marketing playbook?

According to Abbas Mirza, Senior Creative Director, Ogilvy, “We can't compare it with the scale at which Barbie did it but I feel the intention has been the same - let the movie and the brand feed off each other's popularity.”

Sridhar added that the association of brands with Archies would help strike a chord with the audience around the world. “boAt is a new brand whose target audience is slightly more mature. Since Archies is a classic, its release is similar to the Beatles coming back,” he added.

What are the views on current market integration?

Founded in 1939, Archie Comics is an 84-year-old American comic book where the initial Archie characters were created two years later in 1941.

On the other hand, Barbie, which was created by (American multinational toy manufacturing and entertainment company) Mattel Inc’s Ruth Handler, debuted on March 9, 1959 at the American International Toy Fair in New York City.

As per Mirza, the characters of Archie’s are an integral part of the current pop culture. This forms the base as to why even new age brands are not shying away from collaborating, thus leading to interesting creative pieces.

However, Anand Narasimha, professor - brand marketing, has a different view point. Firstly, he highlights a fundamental difference here. Archie’s is a comic book whereas Barbie is a doll. Archie’s caters to a very old generation that grew up reading the comic book in schools and colleges. And, Archie’s lost its following two decades back.

Barbie, which was introduced in 1959, has been a brand for generations and is very popular even today among younger kids. “Today, most of the brands suffer from FOMO (fear of missing out). Who reads comic books today? Nobody does. Archie’s are non-existent as far as the GenZ is concerned. Most of them don’t even know what Archie’s is,” stated Anand.

He highlights that brand collaborations will not be able to leverage it to the extent they were able to do with Barbie. Because it's an unknown brand amongst the younger generation.

OTT: Steps for brand collaborations or integrations

OTT or over the top platforms became the talk of the town when Covid-19 had to down the shutters of the theatre halls. Since then, the majority of the releases on the platforms have continued to give stiff competition to multiplexes even after restrictions were lifted. Today, OTT caters to a wider range of audiences, especially GenZ and millennials.

In 2021, Netflix partnered with Tinder where the latter’s users could appear as contestants on a new dating show on the OTT platform. Earlier, the platform had collaborated with OnePlus for a game which was based on its show AK v/s AK (released in 2020) starring Anil Kapoor and Anurag Kashyap.

With respect to brand collaborations, in 2021, it was reported that OTT platforms could earn around 55 percent to 60 percent of overall revenue in the coming few years.

Barbie was an American film with an international star cast. On the other hand, Archie’s is an Indian movie with an Indian star cast. “Will Archie’s become as successful as Barbie? I am not very sure,” Narasimha expresses his doubt.

“While the OTT platforms have already been doing some interesting collaborations, it's important for them to keep creating content that has the potential to survive the test of time and goes on to become a part of popular culture. It's easier said than done but this way they will be able to keep on getting deals for their content long after the initial hype fades off,” concludes Mirza.

First Published on Dec 6, 2023 12:46 PM