In its opening weekend (Friday February 12th-Sunday February 14th) Deadpool set a number of box office records, including:
- Biggest R-rated opening: With $132.7 million (Fri-Sun)
- Biggest Fri-Mon opening: With $156 million
- Biggest R-rated comic book superhero opening ever: $185 million worldwide
- + Over a dozen very niche records, but you get the idea.
Deadpool was able to do what nobody really thought would be possible: Set box office records with a superhero movie that most kids would not be able to get into (Or shouldn't for that matter). When it comes to marketing a movie, the ratings system plays a major role in how many tickets will be sold. If a movie is PG or PG-13, much more families are able to attend, selling nearly twice the amount of tickets.
Marvel's The Avengers, for example, was rated PG-13 and has the 2nd highest opening weekend of all time with $207,438,708 million solely in the U.S. and Canada. That figure cannot be attributed to the rating alone; however, the marketing team for The Avenger's didn't have to work nearly as hard to sell a blockbuster, families were comfortable bringing kids of all ages to see.
That's why we've chosen to look at Deadpool from the marketing perspective. Not only were they able to make the hard sell, they did so in ways most of us would have never thought to do.
Putting Twists On Old Marketing Tricks
To preface this section, I have to provide everyone some background into the creation of this film. Deadpool was arguably one of the most raunchy, adult-humored comic books to ever come from Marvel. Part of the reason it took ten years to begin filming was that the creators and producers could not come to an agreement about funding an inevitably R-rated comic book film. The money-people were worried that an R-rated superhero movie would flop, while the creators refused to compromise the real character (Welcome to Hollywood).
[Fast-forward to the film's completion... May 2015]
Deadpool's marketing team wasted no time advertising the film with the first image surfacing in March 2015 with Ryan Reynolds lying sensually on a bearskin rug. Not only did it set the precedent that Deadpool would remain true to its raunchy comic book personality, it also brilliantly ripped off Burt Reynold's nude spread in Cosmopolitan from 1972 (A bold statement of its own at the time).
From that moment on, the marketing team took advantage of all sorts of old-school mediums, especially billboards. One of the most memorable was a combination of a skull, the 'poo emoji' and the letter L, creatively symbolizing Deadpool in a way that's slightly childish, but entirely memorable.[caption id="attachment_10677" align="aligncenter" width="652"] Image Credit: Adweek[/caption]
This trend would continue throughout most of the marketing material for the movie.
Using The Disadvantage, As An Advantage
Rather than trying to fool audiences into thinking Deadpool would be an R-rated movie you could bring your kids to, it owned up to the fact this was an adult film, and used satire to demonstrate the years of arguments that went into keeping it an R-rated film. Check out the video below that was released on April Fool's Day:
In addition, the marketing team also released a series of other videos that had nothing to do with the plot of the movie. Ryan Reynolds even made an appearance on Conan O'Brien to promote the film in a nontraditional way.
Unlike most Hollywood movies, Deadpool managed to release unique promotional material across all sorts of platforms, including Tinder and Snapchat.
Social Media and Ryan Reynolds
Social media is key for any marketing campaign, but how many companies have gone as far as creating a custom set of Emojis to promote their product? At least one...
Although the emojis and social media posts were effective, the greatest asset the Deadpool marketing team had to work with was Ryan Reynolds himself. Why? Because no one was more excited than Reynolds about Deadpool becoming a feature length film, allowing for fans to be entertained by his social media posts for an entire year leading up to the movie.
More than anything the Deadpool marketing campaign managed to create a relationship with the people who ended up going to see it. They were honest, creative, and completely relentless. And rather than sticking to traditional advertising, they decided to put their campaign anywhere someone might be looking, even Tinder.
If there's anything your company can mimic here it's the tenacity, the creativity, and above all be honest with what you're trying to sell. People will support you if they can see into what you're providing.