Barbie Newsjacking Works in B2B Marketing, Too


Have you newsjacked the Barbie movie yet? Wait a minute, are we newsjacking Barbie right now?

It’s all a bit meta, but the summer’s No. 1 movie spurred a lot of content about how to create marketing, just like Barbie.

The Barbie movie opened to a record-setting $155 million. The brilliance of its marketing – including the Barbenheimer meme pairing the Barbie and Oppenheimer movies – should come as no surprise.

CMI’s chief strategy advisor Robert Rose explains what Barbie can teach B2B marketers in this week’s CMI News video. Watch it below, or keep reading for the highlights:

If toymaker Mattel knows anything – it’s marketing and media. More than 40 films have made up the “Barbie Cinematic Universe” over the last 22 years. Of course, the marketing around Greta Gerwig’s A-list outing with Margot Robbie and Ryan Gosling outdoes Mattel’s content and marketing from the previous two decades.

It included an incredible social campaign, a product pairing with car companies, an Xbox-themed console, a Barbie-themed hotel that hosted cast interviews, and an actual Barbie Dreamhouse in Malibu listed on Airbnb. The marketing and experiential design has been nothing short of breathtaking.

All that success inspired news about Barbie’s marketing prowess. Many marketers at product and service companies created newsjacking content to take advantage of it:

Newsjacking isn’t just your opinion on news or trends

All these Barbie marketing and content examples prompted Robert to think more generally about newsjacking.

Over a decade ago, David Meerman Scott popularized the term newsjacking, which involves injecting your ideas into breaking news. Newsjacking lets you draft, like bicycle or auto racers might, behind a fast-moving news topic or article to get your message to a broader audience.

“It’s injecting you into the story that’s important,” Robert says. “It’s not just covering breaking news or providing your perspective on that news.

“To make newsjacking work, you must bring your unique angle or point of view in a way that motivates people to explore that angle.”

Newsjacking only works when you bring a unique point of view that motivates people to explore your #Content, says @Robert_Rose via @CMIContent. Click To Tweet

Crocodiles and gin newsjacking examples

One famous example of newsjacking comes from Aviation Gin. After that disastrous Peloton ad featuring a husband giving a Peloton bike to his traumatized-looking wife prompted critical news stories and social media posts, the Ryan Reynolds-helmed beverage company found a way to enter the scene (and steal the spotlight). Aviation quickly created an ad featuring the actress from the Peloton clip sitting at a bar with friends who tell her, “You’re safe here,” before they all toast to new beginnings.


One of Robert’s all-time favorite newsjacking examples comes from a company that issued then-president Barack Obama an insurance policy against a crocodile attack during his visit to Australia. It earned a lot of mainstream media coverage.

Can B2B marketing benefit from newsjacking? Robert says yes. For example, imagine a scenario in which a large technology company gets acquired, generating many media headlines. A smaller competitor could grab the newsjacking opportunity by having its CEO publish content about or do interviews on the impact of the acquisition in which they share a vision for the state of the industry.

Earlier this year, Google attempted some newsjacking of the attention Microsoft had earned with for Bing AI announcements – and let’s just say the result wasn’t out of this world. (Robert explains what happened in this CMI News video: The Next Big Search Battle: Bing vs. Bard.

Newsjacking is all about inserting your brand point of view in a way that makes people want to share your take, says @Robert_Rose via @CMIContent. #ContentMarketing Click To Tweet

Newsjacking isn’t about covering the news or even covering the news about the news with the hope of latching onto a popular concept. To do newsjacking well, you need to cleverly insert your point of view, brand, or even product into the news so other people want to share your take.

So, is this article newsjacking? Maybe. Maybe not. What do you think?

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Cover image by Joseph Kalinowski/Content Marketing Institute


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