Marketing by Caroline Jensen

Marketing plays a big part of filmmaking. Without the marketing of the film, audiences would not know about the film’s release. Without the posters on the red busses and the fans’ generating words, the film simply would not be known, to the public. However, some films go further than the posters on the busses and billboards; they use digital technology to spread the word of it, out in society. With the help from social media, such as Facebook, YouTube and Twitter, films generate more press and publicity, than ever before.


Often impacted by several factors, marketing strategies begin at the first stage of the product’s development, and continues throughout the emergence of ideas. The important factors in this development include budgets, timing, target audiences, as well as actors and other talents involved. Actors are often involved in numerous marketing activities, such as posters and interviews; this marketing process continues into production, as well as distribution and exhibition (Kerrigan, Finola, Film Marketing, (New York: Routledge, 2013), pp. 9, 10). Tino Balio suggests, in “Hollywood in the New Millennium” that “Marketing (…) has twin goals: to create a unique brand for a new release and to create a must-see attitude for the opening weekend.” (Balio, Tino,Hollywood in the New Millennium, (London: Palgrave, 2013), p. 69) This contributes to Jeffrey C. Ulin’s theory, from his book “The Business of Media Distribution: Monetizing Film, TV, and Video Content in an Online World”, where he suggests that advertising helps the consumer feel as if they have experienced the film, in a unique matter (Ulin, Jeffrey C., The Business of Media Distribution: Monetizing Film, TV, and Video Content in an Online World, 2nd Edn. (Oxon: Focal Press, 2014), p. 517). In today’s society, this contributes to viral sharing among users on social networking sites, contributing to more publicity of the film.


For a long time, conventional film marketing strategies were limited to posters and appearances from the actors, as well as merchandise and stills. However, as the internet has evolved and social media has taken a rise to several formations, marketing has grown with it. Nowadays, films have their own websites, where film trailers, as well as information about both storyline and characters are hosted. These are often available on other peer-to-peer websites, such as YouTube, where links are available for sharing on social networking sites, e.g. Facebook or Twitter (Ulin, Jeffrey C., The Business of Media Distribution: Monetizing Film, TV, and Video Content in an Online World, 2nd Edn. (Oxon: Focal Press, 2014), p. 140


Viral marketing can also go wrong, in which social media plays a big part. Posts on Facebook and Twitter travel fast and films quickly get reputations for not living up to the marketing’s standards. A film like Brüno (Larry Charles, 2009) earned a strong $30 million in its first week, but as audiences started tweeting their negative opinion about it, it quickly fell to only $12 million, in the following week (Hampp, Andrew, ‘Forget Ebert: How Twitter makes or breaks movie marketing today; Universal, Sony, others wrestle with how social media affects box office’, Advertising Age, 80:33 (2009)). However, other films do succeed, despite, but also with the help from social media’s big impact. A film, which was widely successful in both its marketing campaign, as well as release, was Deadpool (Tim Miller, 2016). 


Marvel’s Deadpool was released on the 10th of February 2016, in the United Kingdom. The film features Ryan Reynolds as the sassy anti-superhero Wade Wilson (Also known as Deadpool), who is fighting against the bad guy who gave him the superpowers, against his will. Its marketing strategy covered several areas, before its release, hoping to catch as much of the fans’ attention, as possible. It was a provocative and irreverent strategy, which showed that it was a superhero movie, as well as an R-rated comedy. It combined these two elements, generating a lot of positive attention. This attention resulted in the film being the highest earning R-rated film in history, despite it being the first R-rated Marvel film.


The marketing campaign started in March 2015, when a first-look picture was released. It featured the character, Deadpool, in his costume, lying on a bearskin rug. It was released in order to test the costume on the fans, and get their approval of it; the response was positive. A few months later, in the summer, the first trailer of the film was released and shown at Comic-Con, a big convention in San Diego, where fans go to meet other fans and actors; and where lots of new films show new material, such as pictures and trailers. After that, several other successful attempts of generating publicity were made, such as a billboard with emojis spelling out the name of the film (which resulted in being mistaken, causing the actor to put it on his instagram it), as well as avideo where Ryan Reynolds’ character encourages the male audience to check themselves for early signs of testicular cancer. Many other attempts were made, such as trailers being shown during the Super Bowl, which the majority of America and the world is watching. While all of these attempts were mainly aiming for the male audience, as well as fans, romantic-looking posterswere also created, in order to appeal to the female audience.


Marketing chief Marc Weinstock says that the marketing managed to travel more “because so much of it was outrageous and audacious” Box-office analyst Jeff Bock says that the superhero genre needed to be uplifted and adds that “audiences were finally ready for an anything-goes, language-be-damned film that poked fun at the world it inhabits, and delightfully breaks through the fourth wall.” While the film was a superhero film, it most definitely did not appeal to children, as many other superhero films do. Its R-rated comedy allowed the marketing campaign to be bold and more rebellious, in ways that other films had not dared to be.


In the days leading up to its premiere, posters of Deadpool were everywhere. My Facebook page was filled with pictures of both the Billboard picture and the romantic-looking poster, mentioned earlier. While there was a lot of it, everywhere, it did make me intrigued enough, to go and see it in the cinema. The marketing strategy made me curious to see if it was as funny, as the entire campaign had shown. While it could have easily gone wrong with such a big marketing campaign, which Deadpool had, the film was a success. It showed the audience that it was an R-rated comedy, as well as a superhero film, with a romantic and absurd twist. 


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