I have a confession to make.
I haven’t seen Deadpool.
Don’t get me wrong, I will eventually and I’m sure it will be all I imagine and more. But there was something about this film that piqued my interest much more than the movie itself.
Watching the marketing campaigns in the run up to the release of what is now the highest grossing R-rated movie ever was one of the most interesting of my career. Basing the movies success off of the promotion alone it would have been easy to call that the “Merc with a Mouth” was going to be successful.
20th Century Fox has rightfully received mountains of credit for the creative and unconventional marketing campaign. It was truly an example of marketers having fun and being bold in promoting the film.
Using social media, the marketers were able to capture the essence of the film’s title character. And because of Deadpool’s now infamous fourth wall breaking talents it seems as if the character himself is writing the promotional material.
Not only did the marketers of the film manage to get the entire world excited but they did so with revealing very little of the film footage.
Let’s take a look at what actually made the promotion of Deadpool so successful, in all of its gory detail.
WARNING: The following contains poop, Tinder and panda tears.
WARNING 2.0: If you are easily offended you should probably steer clear of the following…
#1 Emoji Billboard
Social Media Wizards have a soft spot for emoji marketing and if you can find a way to make billboard marketing cool again than you are a rock star, plain and simple!
“So stupid, it’s genius.” – Ad Week
The use of the skull and poop emoji in conjunction with the letter L could be seen on a billboard in Los Angeles as shown by comedian Patton Oswalt.
This idiotic/brilliant billboard is why I'm all in on the DEADPOOL movie. I'm an easy lay. pic.twitter.com/jSRorPvaCp
— Patton Oswalt (@pattonoswalt) January 13, 2016
Deadpool marketers decided to go the billboard route again, positioning the film as a romance flick due to its release being just before Valentine’s Day. This created some great fan interaction, fan-made spoofs and mock trailers were created in homage.
— Deadpool Movie (@deadpoolmovie) January 11, 2016
#2 12 Days of Deadpool
Christmas is the most wonderful time of the year. But creating marketing that cuts through the noise of businesses desperate for your money is truly a difficult task.
12 Days of Deadpool was a serious winner, finding a way to create buzz for the movie even in the middle of Star Wars mania.
The campaign released goodies to fans everyday leading up to Christmas, and on Christmas Day a new Deadpool trailer was released.
The goodies included everything from movie posters, GIFs, movie scripts, to our very own Deadpool themed emoji keyboard.
For up to date news, hysterical, fourth wall breaking videos and bearskin rugs, the film’s Instagram page was ground zero for fans who couldn’t get enough Deadpool.
Again, it was clear that the marketers had a great grasp of the character as it feels like the character is sharing the content himself.
The marketing campaign was especially good at capitalizing on special days or holidays as with the 12 Days of Deadpool example above or the Mother’s Day Instagram below…
#4 Cancer Public Service Announcements
Deadpool marketers decided to use his powers and twisted sense of humor for good. Ryan Reynolds’ character, Wade Wilson gets diagnosed with terminal cancer which leads to him gaining his powers through an experimental cure.
The marketers used this part of the backstory to create awareness for Breast and Testicular Cancer in a pair of hilarious but also informative videos. As a bonus the wonderfully blunt #touchyourselftonight hashtag came to life.
#5 Super Bowl Ad
No super hero marketing campaign would be complete without its own Super Bowl commercial and our favorite mercenary had two… kind of!
Deadpool shares with us a childhood dream that so many of us had at one point or another.
Welcome to Ryanville, Population: YES!
#6 Conan O’Brien
Conan changed the TV rating of his show for when Ryan Reynolds came on to promote Deadpool. This way he was able to show his audience the Red Band trailer.
Deadpool saved Conan’s life while giving the host a massage with panda tears. If you can make sense of this video then I salute you!
#7 Email Newsletter
Even Deadpool understands the power of email marketing. As part of his 12 Days of Deadpool he sent all of his email subscribers a Christmas card breaking down Wade Wilson’s year.
— Ryan Reynolds (@VancityReynolds) December 20, 2015
Somehow it just fits. Tinder with Deadpool is a match made in heaven and a very clever marketing choice.
I love it when a brand thinks outside the box when it comes to social media and does something that hasn’t been done before.
#9 Clickbait Fun and Games
The marketers of Deadpool left no stone unturned. They even launched a clickbait site, making fun of clickbait titles and encouraging fans to use one of many templates to fool their friends online, all directing to ClickPooler.com.
Some of the templates included:
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#10 Wolverine vs Deadpool
Wolverine and Deadpool had faced each other before, but never like this. The fact is that Hugh Jackman was a big supporter of the movie and offered Wolverine has fodder for Deadpool jokes and also helped out on social media.
— Hugh Jackman (@RealHughJackman) December 24, 2015
The two actors squared off for Ryan Reynolds’ first ever interview and the result is entertaining if nothing else.
#11 Ryan Reynolds
Ryan Reynolds was Deadpool’s super hero. Not only did he star and produce the film but he championed the concept for the last six years. Much like the marketing team being able to channel Deadpool through social media, Ryan was able to do so onscreen and off it.
“I’ve been fortunate to sort of share a heartbeat with Deadpool, so I felt like I could channel the words of the character – they come pretty easily to me. That was fun: I got to play around and improvise and goof off and be Wade Wilson.”
As you have hopefully noticed above, Ryan has taken a very personal interest in the promotion of this movie, actively sharing it via his social media profiles as well as leveraging personal relationships (ie. with Hugh Jackman).
He took the time to film all of the extra footage you have watched. The extra content and treats for fans really paid off in terms of fan interaction and engagement.
— Ryan Reynolds (@VancityReynolds) March 11, 2016
All the hard work, the years of waiting and the bold, innovative marketing has paid off. Hopefully this has inspired you, maybe given you a few ideas for your own marketing.
At the very least it shows that you don’t need a big budget to make big waves on social media. I will leave you with a quote from Marc Weinstock, president-domestic marketing, 20th Century Fox, which I believe relates to most industries, not just movies.
“This reaffirmed my faith in social media. There’s a lot of debate as to whether or not social media can really open a movie…and this proves it can.”