How Marketing Limitations Spark Innovation - Focus Communications
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Landon Kiltz


How Marketing Limitations Spark Innovation

Limitation Breeds Creativity

As we near the spooky season of Halloween, it’s not just ghosts, goblins, vampires, and zombies that send shivers down your spine; it’s also the horror of limited resources. Creating an effective marketing campaign can seem overwhelming when you’re on a tight budget, have limited time, or lack available staff. But as the old saying goes, limitation breeds creativity. When you have limited resources, it forces you to devise a strategic plan for best reaching your audiences. This leads to out-of-the-box thinking and can produce new channels and formats for reaching your target market.

Since it’s so close to Halloween, we’ll look at the marketing limitations of some movies that inspired this year’s hottest Halloween costumes below.

The Oddness of the 2023 Movie Season

Movie Theatre

2023 has been a rebuilding year for Hollywood. The closing of movie theatres and the rise of streaming services during the COVID-19 pandemic have trained some movie-goers to refrain from returning to their local multiplex. On top of that, by July 14th, 2023, actors’ and writers’ unions went on strike, resulting in the suspension of late-night talk shows, typically a platform for actors to promote their new films. These strikes meant that actors would no longer do any film promotion and even led to the cast of Oppenheimer walking out of the film’s premiere.

The Brilliance of Barbie

Barbie featured an all-star cast that couldn’t be used for promotion. With this traditional channel off-limits, the marketing team needed new ways to get attention. Pink billboards with only the movie’s release date written in the Barbie font started popping up.


It’s Barbie’s world and we’re all in living in it 🛼🪩🩷 This pink billboard doesn’t need to say anything else… it’s the power of iconic branding and sharing the release date! Who else has been loving the Barbie Movie’s marketing campaign this summer?👇🏽 #barbiemovie #becauseofmarketing #barbiemarketing #outofhomeadvertising #billboardmarketing

♬ Barbie World (with Aqua) [From Barbie The Album] – Nicki Minaj & Ice Spice & Aqua

Barbie is so synonymous with the colour pink that this minimalist graphic design was a huge success, generating a lot of attention.

The Explosive Boom of Barbenheimer

On a surface level, Barbie and Oppenheimer have nothing in common. The former is a comedy about a Barbie doll visiting the real world, and the latter is a historical war drama based on a real person. Perhaps that’s why the internet thought it would be so funny to start making jokes about seeing both movies back to back and called it the Barbenheimer double feature.

Although neither film’s marketing team had foreseen this, they both embraced the joke and encouraged moviegoers to try the Barbenheimer double feature. The trend caught on, and many watched both films on their opening weekend.


The mash-up moniker, Barbenheimer, gave each film a boost in audience interest. External forces can unexpectedly boost your marketing efforts, and taking advantage of such opportunities can be beneficial.  Both films became among the highest-grossing movies of the summer.

The Surprise Success of Saw X

After the massive achievement of Barbenheimer, marketing teams tried to make Sawpatrol (consisting of Saw X and Paw Patrol: The Mighty Movie) the next prominent double feature. However, since this wasn’t an organic internet invention, it fizzled out pretty quickly. But, the marketing team behind Saw X was quite creative despite many severe limitations.

Saw X Movie Marketing

Saw X is the 10th movie in the popular Saw horror franchise. The main selling point of this movie is that the franchise’s character, Jigsaw, played by Tobin Bell, would return after his character had famously been killed off in Saw III. So, the obvious way to market this movie would be to get actor Tobin Bell out in front of the cameras and get him talking about how excited he is to return to the franchise, right? Due to the ongoing actors’ strike, this wasn’t a possibility. Furthermore, the 10th Saw movie was made for a modest Hollywood budget of $13 million, meaning it was also only allotted a small marketing budget and, therefore, was only given one movie trailer. Financial limitations and no access to the film’s star meant the marketing team was forced to think outside the box.

Saw X Slices into Social Media

Since the marketing team couldn’t rely on the movie’s star to promote the movie, they relied on the franchise’s mascot, Billy the puppet, to promote the film instead. The team started by cleverly parodying the AMC Theatres We Make Movies Better advertisement by replacing Nicole Kidman with Billy.


The social media team then went on to parody Cribs, made a PSA about turning your phone off during the movie, and parodied impromptu ten questions with a celebrity videos in a video titled “X Questions with Billy.” The social media team also got the hashtag #SawTenber trending.

They managed to do some good for the community by organizing a blood drive. Everyone who donated blood was given free tickets to the movie. They successfully reached their donation goal.

All of this was achieved using organic social media posting, maximizing the limited marketing budget. Saw X went on to make $29 million worldwide in its opening weekend, making it a big success. It also made more at the box office than the previous Saw movie did in its entirety in just ten days.

Limitations can Create Innovation

In conclusion, limitations can lead to innovative results. You don’t need a mammoth marketing budget to reach your audiences effectively. While the films mentioned above had marketing limitations, they overcame these obstacles and used creative thinking to catch the interest of their target markets.

If you need assistance communicating with your target audiences, Focus Communications is here to help. Contact us today, and let’s see how we can work together.

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