It’s the summer of superhero movies.
The new Avengers premiered at the end of April, a new installment of the Ant Man series comes out in July, and this past weekend, the sequel to Deadpool hit theaters.
Since its premiere, Deadpool 2 already grossed three times as much as the movie’s budget, which was a massive $110 million.
Its successful opening weekend could be attributed to many things, including fans of the first movie returning for the sequel and comic book/Marvel fans flocking to theaters.
Another reason the movie is crushing the box office? Its marketing campaign.
Fans love Deadpool for its meta jokes and crude sense of humor, and Twentieth Century Fox used this to their advantage during the promotional campaign.
Ryan Reynolds appeared in character in several advertisements and the movie’s communications team used some non-traditional tactics to get fans excited for its premiere.
Although, like the example of Kate Spade’s new digital strategy in our recent article, Deadpool has a multi-million-dollar budget and commercial appeal at its disposal, the marketing campaign for its newest installment still provides useful takeaways for communicators.
Twentieth Century Fox kicked off the marketing campaign for the sequel of Deadpool over a year ago by dressing up Ryan Reynolds as Deadpool as Bob Ross.
Near Thanksgiving, Deadpool partnered up with Good Housekeeping to serve as a guest editor, including a holiday letter written by him and a tutorial on turkey carving.
For Brazil’s Comic Con, he “learned” Portuguese and offered free Deadpool themed tattoos to attendees of the convention.
He released holiday themed memorabilia, including cards for Valentine’s Day and a coloring book for Easter.
Arguably the best stunt of the campaign? He partnered up with Céline Dion for a song on the movie’s soundtrack. Deadpool appeared alongside Céline Dion in the music video, outfitted in stilettos and performing a fully choreographed dance.
Ryan Reynolds also worked with brand partners by appearing in character in their ads. Espolòn tequila, for example, appointed Deadpool their “creative director of culture ’n’ stuff.” The campaign included store displays, limited edition packaging, social media content, and out-of-home ads. The activations parodied the typical celebrity endorsed campaigns with poorly photoshopped visuals and acknowledgement of Deadpool’s lack of qualifications for the position.
The movie also used social media to creatively market the film. In addition to the traditional branded account for the film, Twentieth Century Fox created a Twitter handle and LinkedIn account for one of the film’s characters. Peter’s LinkedIn features three articles authored by him, lists Eagle Scout under Awards & Honors, and includes X-Force Member as his most recent job.
What can communicators learn from this?
The marketing campaign leading to the movie’s release offers lots of useful tips for communicators, regardless of the industry they work in or the products and services they’re marketing.
The communicators and marketers involved in this campaign found inventive ways to use traditional communications channels and tactics, like social media, video, and co-branded campaigns, to get audiences engaged and excited for the premiere.
Consider these tips from the campaign for your future communications planning:
- Find your voice
Deadpool is known for sarcastic, self-aware humor. So much of the movie’s promotional materials work well because they maintain this voice throughout all of the messages, whether he’s instructing readers on how to carve a turkey or giving Céline Dion singing tips.
This kind of voice may not work for your brand, but you’ll definitely benefit from this approach. Develop a voice that will resonate with the audience you want to connect with and keep it consistent. You’ll likely have to tweak it a bit from platform to platform—Twitter users prefer casual, short messages while Facebook posts have more detail and structure—but maintaining consistency with the style and language portrays a specific brand persona that audiences can connect with.
- Pick a partner
We’ve recently published articles about the dangers of fake influencers. Deadpool is (kind of) a fake influencer, but Twentieth Century Fox’s approach to integrating him into advertisements brought tons of value to their company and the various brands they partnered with during the promotional campaign.
Your brand may not get the opportunity to partner with a superhero, but there are a lot of advantages to teaming up with another company or an influencer. The connection between your brand and partner could be obvious, like the campaign with home furnisher Pottery Barn and paint company Sherwin-Williams, or more surprising, like when Best Friends Animal Society partnered with Buzzfeed to simultaneously generate more adoptions and article engagement. However you decide to approach these kinds of partnerships, a co-branded campaign offers the opportunity to produce fun, engaging materials that reach consumers outside your brand’s normal following.
- Reconsider tactics and channels
It’s pretty standard for companies to develop a thoughtful PESO plan, including a website and social media presence as part of this plan. These practices are so standard that it can be easy to let your messages get routine and mundane.
The Deadpool communications team stood out by reconsidering how they use traditional channels and tactics. In addition to the typical official Twitter handle for the movie, the fake accounts they created for bee enthusiast Peter really entertained audiences. As of writing this, that fake Twitter has 119,000 followers.
Other brands have found inventive ways to use social media, like hiding Easter eggs in their account (I’m looking at you, KFC.) Some brands engage with each other to amuse their audiences, like the ongoing friendship between the Wendy’s and MoonPie Twitters. These social media tactics get other users talking about the brand and often generate earned media coverage.
As the Deadpool promotional campaign wraps up, review your plans and consider how your brand could revise tactics and introduce new messaging to revitalize your communications campaigns.