The economy is a confusing jumble of various factors. A Bull Market on Wall Street, trade between countries, and tourism are all signs of a robust economy. Now, we have to add pop culture into the mix. Today, pop culture – films, superstar artists, literature, music, and whatever up-and-coming cultural phenomenon is – has a serious impact on individuals as well as the growth of a nation.
Culture influences the way we view the world. Ireland has Joyce, England brought us Shakespeare, Austria will always be identified with Mozart, and Jamaica gave us the brilliant Bob Marley. America’s given birth to many artists, and the biggest star of all these days is Taylor Swift.
Let’s not just stick to Music and Literature. Movies can also profoundly affect us. Jaws made people afraid of the ocean. Top Gun catapulted aviator sunglasses into the stratosphere. Harry Potter and friends forged a brand-new subculture. Everyone wanted a DeLorean after watching Back ToThe Future. And at this very moment, the world is bright pink, thanks to Barbie.
Both Director, Greta Gerwig's Barbie and Taylor Swift’s The Eras Tour have been the talk of the month. We’re not here to review the movie or discuss Taylor Swift’s setlist. We all know how great Tay-Tay is and we’re all astounded by the jaw-dropping box office returns for Greta Gerwig’s film. We’re here to talk about the enormous impact Ms. T and Ms. B are having on our economy.
Let’s break it down…
Merch & Retail
Created in 1959 by the Mattel Toy Company, Barbie’s been a big seller ever since she slipped into her first zebra-striped swimsuit. But time does take its toll, and recent sales have dropped...a situation that the film has reversed. Business Insider reports that Barbie’s racked up “$282.7 million in gross billings in the three months to 30th June 2023.” And that’s just for the actual doll. Add in frivolities like pink outfits, accessories, and make-up, and you’re talking even bigger Barbie bucks.
The doll’s manufacturer is as surprised as some of us in the audience were. "The success of the Barbie movie is a milestone moment for Mattel and it really is a showcase for the cultural resonance of the brand...As we've seen, the success is far beyond the film." said COO Richard Dickson.
Taylor Swift can talk merch, too. Her fans –“Swifties” – are known to spend hours in line just to secure a hoodie or a T to wear to her next concert. (That’s if they can snag a super-difficult-to-find ticket.) Unfortunately, the clothing isn’t particularly durable. “After one wash, the print was horribly faded to the point that Taylor’s face was unrecognizable," says Emilia. She waited for over five hours to buy her gray quarter-zip sweatshirt at the tour’s Las Vegas stop.
It doesn’t seem to bother Swift’s fans, who keep right on spending.
Taylor Swift’s album sales have reached $37.3 million in the United States alone. But even more astounding is the intense profitability of The Eras tour. Demand to see her live was so strong Ticketmaster crashed in more than one country when the tour was announced. Ms. Swift’s extravaganza will be the first tour in history to cross the billion-dollar mark: 1.4 billion is the estimated amount. According to Pollstar, that billion-four is only counting tickets sold at face value. “The actual amount of money being spent on the Swift tour by consumers is far, far higher, with nearly all resold tickets going on the secondary market for several times their original value. Pollstar’s figures cover only the face value of the tickets, which topped out under $500.” The tour is bringing in so much money that Swift turned off the “platinum pricing” feature on Ticketmaster and gave bonuses totaling over $55 million to everyone working on her shows. Way to go, Tay!
Since opening on July 21, Barbie has grossed $1+ BILLION bucks globally, according to Forbes.
Add Swift’s ticket sales to Ms. B.’s, and you wind up with approximately $2.175 billion. Subtract the bonuses Taylor handed out and we’re left with $2.120 billion — a lot of taxable zeros pumping up the economy. Don’t forget the money spent on transportation, accommodation, and other tour-related matters.
Employment, Manufacturing, and Entrepreneurship
Both Barbie and Taylor Swift have bolstered all of the above. Dolls need to be manufactured. Their outfits need to be sewn. A music concert – especially on a Swiftian level – requires hundreds of people to make it happen. Musicians. Back-up singers. Dancers. Set designers. Roadies. Vendors to sell the t-shirts & hoodies & posters. Etcetera, etcetera, ad infinitum.
Two women – one real, one not – have given the economy a huge shot of adrenaline. Not only that. They’re shattering records and providing the world yet one more example of mighty women driving the world's economy.
Let’s see Ken do that.