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Americans want to see their favorite brands in movies, research finds

Barbie, Nike, and Pop-Tarts are just some of the brands starring in films this year.
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Barbie/Warner Bros. Pictures via YouTube

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Barbie pink is the hot shade this summer. Greta Gerwig’s movie adaptation of the iconic doll is set to be released this summer, and Barbie-maker Mattel has already told investors it expects a boost in sales.

A line of toys tied to the movie is in the works, executives have said during earnings calls.

It’s one of several brands getting the Hollywood treatment this year: Flamin’ Hot Cheetos, Nike, and Pop-Tarts are also taking on main-character status in films throughout 2023.

Brand involvement varies. While Mattel is involved with Barbie, Air director and actor Ben Affleck told The Hollywood Reporter he “did not have a conversation with Nike” about the movie, which tells the story of how the company pursued Michael Jordan in the ’80s. However involved with a movie a brand may be, it does raise the question: At what point does a movie about a brand become something of…a commercial?

Turns out, people still want to see movies about them regardless, according to a survey commissioned by Marketing Brew: 60% of Americans said they were “more interested in seeing movies that depict their favorite brands in some way,” according to Harris Poll, which surveyed more than 2,000 US adults. Nearly 60% said their opinion of a brand wouldn’t change if it was “involved in the production of a movie depicting them.”

But it should be tasteful: Over half of respondents said they worried that too much brand involvement could make films feel “like commercials instead of stories,” with a little less than half saying it “would lead to poorer-quality storylines.”

Test case: Among those who saw Air, 67% said it felt “less like a movie” and “more like an advertisement for Nike,” despite Affleck’s claim to the contrary. FWIW, only half of respondents familiar with the movie, which came out in April, “found it believable that Nike had no involvement in the film’s creation.”

However, Nike probably isn’t too worried either way. Nearly nine in 10 respondents who saw Air said they were more interested in purchasing something from Nike after seeing it.

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