Guys and Dolls: Deep Dive into the Barbenheimer Audiences

Written by
Will Taylor

Insights by
Jerome Mckay-Jones

21 Jul, 2023

For those uninitiated, or indeed for those currently dwelling in a Cold War bunker, Barbenheimer day is upon us. With the release of Greta Gerwig’s Barbie and its older, moodier cousin Oppenheimer (Dir. Christopher Nolan) both planned for the 21st of July, the films - and their contrasting aesthetics - have been a trending topic in recent months. In the interest of carving ourselves off a piece of the action, we ran an analysis into the two films’ key audiences. Dividing our groups into Barbie Biassed (BB) and Oppenheimer Obsessed (OO) buckets, we got to work breaking down the fan bases and uncovering the people behind the data. Here’s what we found:

Barbie Biassed:

Creative Arts Enthusiasts:

The biggest of our Barbie Biassed groups is one that revolves around film & TV, music, and the performing arts. The Creative Arts Enthusiasts follow a mix of prominent figures, but the emphasis is decidedly on film and TV personalities - from Ryan Reynolds to Rob Brydon, this is a group that lives and breathes on-screen entertainment. Other points of interest are political figures like Barack Obama, as well as steadfast markers of mainstream British pop culture Holly Willoughby, Simon Cowell, and Fearne Cotton. Top keywords and occupations tell the story of a broadly creative audience, with terms like actor, singer, and creator all featuring highly.

Figure 1: top influencers for the Creative Arts Enthusiasts
Figure 1: top influencers for the Creative Arts Enthusiasts

Contemporary Culture Connoisseurs:

Since the incomplete list of artists featured on the soundtrack was released earlier this year, there has also notably been considerable buzz surrounding the film’s star-studded tracklist, with artists like Billie Eilish, Lizzo and Sam Smith all contributing original songs. The soundtrack, and the conversation around it, may be a significant draw for the Contemporary Culture Connoisseurs, a tribe with contemporary music in its DNA.

Trendy Gen Zers:

Our first true Gen Z presence in the study, the Trendy Gen Zers coalesce around pillars like music, fashion, and the political left. Though this tribe’s top category interests and influencers show a broadly standard mix of media and entertainment, Gen Z’s reach and influence as true internet locals makes them a keystone species for targeted marketing. Barbie’s harnessing of universal nostalgia appears to have struck gold with Gen Z, a group constantly revisiting and recontextualising past pop culture and fashion trends. Combine this with popular highstreet brands like Zara releasing collections of Barbie-branded products, and we can get an idea of just how widely Barbie’s shockwaves can be felt.

Fashion & Lifestyle Enthusiasts:

Following a range of fashion and lifestyle brands, publications, and prominent figures, the Fashion & Lifestyle Enthusiasts are not only united by their interests, but also by the work they do. Job titles such as creator and model come up frequently alongside keywords like fashion, beauty, and blogger, suggesting that this is a group with strong influencer representation. Like the Trendy Gen Zers, these individuals are likely engaging heavily with the marketing buzz and making ample use of trending hashtags like #Barbiecore to boost their own engagement.

Figure 2: top categories for the Fashion & Lifestyle Enthusiasts
Figure 2: top categories for the Fashion & Lifestyle Enthusiasts

Oppenheimer Obsessed:

Cultured Brits:

Topping off our Oppenheimer Obsessed list are the Cultured Brits, an engaged and politically-minded group with a finger firmly on the pulse. Their top influencers are a tapestry of news outlets, politicians, and Film & TV personalities, giving the impression of a tribe with wide ranging interests. The strong presence of Books & Literature as a category interest, along with government, news, and advocacy, meshes naturally with the tribe’s top job titles, which include journalist and author. Historian also makes an appearance in the top 5, aligning fittingly with Oppenheimer’s historical subject matter. The data point towards a group broadly millennial and older.

Figure 3: top influencers for the Cultured Brits
Figure 3: top influencers for the Cultured Brits

Gaming & Fantasy Fans:

An interesting addition to the OO roster is an audience based around Gaming and Fantasy. As fans of franchises like Star Wars and Doctor Who, as well as entertainment giants such as Marvel, Rockstar Games, and Playstation, the Gaming & Fantasy Fans have a deep appreciation for storytelling. The appearance of Sci-Fi royalty Carrie Fisher and Mark Hamill in the Gaming & Fantasy Fans’ top influencers, along with their adoration of legacy brands in the space, evoke an audience that, again, is on the older side; this is not a Gen Z gaming audience.

Sports Entertainment Fans:

Joining the mainstream again, the Sports Entertainment Fans show considerable engagement with Oppenheimer. Though sport takes up pole position in terms of this tribe’s interests, other forms of entertainment, including both film and TV are not far behind.


The Cinephiles represent a highly dedicated and topical audience. Showcasing a list of top influencers saturated with actors, directors, film and television awards authorities, and production houses, this tribe is engaged with the film industry at every level. These individuals care deeply about the media they consume, and with Oppenheimer set to be a success having garnered high praise from early critics, it’s only natural the Cinephiles are excited.

Figure 4: top influencers for the Cinephiles
Figure 4: top influencers for the Cinephiles


At first glance, the audiences associated with the two films may not appear all that different, but upon closer inspection, it becomes apparent that the general makeup of the films’ audiences differs greatly. While the tribes associated with Oppenheimer are strongly differentiated by interest, Barbie has a fan base that sits somewhat closer to the mainstream.

Figure 5: Google Trends chart showing relative popularity of search terms over last 9 months
Figure 5: Google Trends chart showing relative popularity of search terms over last 9 months

When looking at the Google Trends data for the relative popularity of the search terms associated with the films, we can see that over the last nine months, Gerwig’s all-star cast and pop culture focus have catapulted Barbie into the spotlight. Vast marketing budgets and slick PR have achieved exactly what they are supposed to - high levels of public awareness and mainstream engagement. Contrasting this, Oppenheimer has produced fewer pieces of promotional content. With a markedly less all-consuming online presence and darker overall tone, Oppenheimer has organically fostered a clearly segmented audience.

Whichever side you’re on, get in touch to find out more about how we can help you get to know your audience.

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