Amongst the many stars who graced the pink carpet at Barbie’s premiere in Los Angeles, none were quite as cute and green as Duo, bright green owl mascot of language learning app Duolingo. The owl will now make its own movie screen appearance with a 30-second ad spot running before the Barbie movie in cinemas.

The app actually appears in the Barbie movie itself – although be it for a blink-or-you’ll-miss-it moment. Essentially, its “ding” sound effect plays when a person submits a correct answer on the Duolingo app. Its marketing team immediately sought to capitalise on its inclusion, however minor, James Kuczynski, Duolingo’s creative director, told Ad Age; “even though it was actually just our sound effect, we wanted to jump on that moment with Duo and the persona we have around Duo of being kind of an influencer now.”

The appearance of the Duo mascot seems to be paying off for the brand. “We’re starting to see the earned media that is just automatically generated when we have Duo show up somewhere,” Kuczynski said. “I think my favourite piece of content out of the ‘Barbie’ premiere is actually the Getty Images-watermarked Duo photo. You can’t pay someone for that—it just happens. And it’s those earned media, word of mouth moments that help elevate our brand.”

They based the 30-second video on the actual scene in the film that includes the Duolingo sound effect, in which a character is doing a lesson on their phone to learn the Spanish word for “pen,” as a way to emphasise that minor moment in the movie and help viewers “make that connection” between that brief sound effect and Duolingo. 

Earlier this week, ahead of the movie’s theatrical release, Duolingo teased the pre-show ad with a TikTok video showing additional footage from the video shoot and on-screen text reading “this is an easter egg.” Hundreds of users excitedly commented on the video asking if they would get a glimpse of Duo in the film, though the owl simply responded to their queries with emoji.

The ad will air ahead of the “Barbie” movie in US cinemas for the first two weeks of the movie’s theatrical run. 

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