Did you know that Greta Gerwig’s Barbie is a 114-minute advert for the toy company Mattel? Of course you did. You don’t have to be Detective Barbie to figure that one out. Yet you may have missed that the film is not just an advert: it’s an advert containing multiple other adverts. It’s a Matryoshka of adverts, each one nestled within the next, all contained within a giant, plastic doll.
Watching the film, I rolled my eyes at the starring role played by a spotless Chevrolet 4x4, and laughed aloud at the way the camera focused on Barbie’s (empowering!) heart-shaped Chanel bag. Ryan Gosling, as Ken, wears three TAG Heuer watches at once at one point, and I instantly knew Mattel would sell the “I am Kenough” hoodie he sported at the end (although my cynicism didn’t stretch to imagining its £58 price tag).