Deadpool: A Uni-CORNUCOPIA of Marketing Wins
|CATEGORY||ROI CAMPAIGN AWARD|
|CAMPAIGN TITLE||Deadpool: a Uni-CORNUCOPIA of Marketing Wins|
|CLIENT||20th Century Fox|
|BRAND||Fox Home Entertainment|
|TEAM MEMBERS||Meghan Grant, SVP Strategy, Zenith
Jeanette Trang, Director Activation, Zenith
Elizabeth Thrash, Supervisor Activation, Zenith
Tina Pukonen, West Coast Lead, Zenith
David Botkin, SVP, Activation, Zenith
Fox struck gold with the theatrical release of Deadpool, the surprise hit of 2016. In order to match that success with the home release, they needed a media strategy to replicate the audience excitement and enthusiasm that flooded the box office – without the initial advantages and budget of a theatrical campaign. By leveraging the character of Deadpool himself across digital media, our campaign effectively recaptured the irreverent, madcap spirit of the initial theatrical marketing without any tactical repetition – making it the #1 Fox Digital HD, #1 Fox DVD and Blu-ray of the past five years and #1 Marvel release ever!
Deadpool’s theatrical release was an unqualified success, shocking the film industry by becoming the highest-grossing R-rated film in history despite a (relatively) small budget, no-name superhero protagonist/antihero, and winter release date. The challenge was to make lightning strike in the same place twice. Audiences might have enjoyed their one-night stand with Deadpool; but how could we convince them to cuddle up on the couch with him in the comfort of their living rooms and enter that long-term relationship? While launching the theatrical release was no easy feat, there were additional challenges this time around. Even though Home Entertainment is a soft market, with studios returning fewer profits each year due to piracy and other entertainment choices, we needed to get fans and newcomersexcited for what Deadpool might call “sloppy seconds” – DVDs, Blu-rays and Digital HD downloads.Unlike the studio release which had plenty of time to build hype, we only had a few weeks in April/May to rebuild momentum – in an entertainment landscape cluttered by big ticket theatrical blockbusters and the home entertainment release of little known film called Star Wars: The Force Awakens. The fight to the top would be almost as ugly as Deadpool’s hideous “avocado” face.
We realized that part of Deadpool’s unique appeal was his fourth-wall-breaking relationship with the audience. As both a character and a marketing campaign, Deadpool succeeded by not only lighting up the exhausted superhero genre but also by bringing audiences in on the joke. By “breaking the ‘fourth’ wall” and speaking directly to audiences, Deadpool made his movie feel more accessible than the average comic book adaptation. In order to convince those same audiences to embrace the home release, we knew we’d need to play off of and expand upon that inside joke feel; supported with tactically strong media movements.
Both the film itself and its theatrical marketing campaign worked by staying true to the bizarre and inappropriate essence of the character. To guide us in our goal of getting Deadpool flying off both physical and digital shelves, we had to ask one question: What Would Deadpool Do? In order to deliver on WWDD we needed to use our greatest ASS-et… Deadpool himself. We turned the media campaign over to the character, allowing him to thank the fans directly by selling his “fourth wall-breaking” persona and not just a comic book movie. All media touchpoints were considered through the WWDD lens – if it didn’t feel true to the base, lewd, self-deprecating character, it didn’t end up on our media plan.
We knew using digital would be one of the strongest tactics to reach our chosen audience, and would give us the flexibility to let Deadpool’s raunchy personality shine through while providing ample social fodder. Kicking things off on – of course – April Fool’s Day, we tapped into social foreplay liquid gold with a ‘VHS’ and ‘Laser disc’ faux home video release unit on Amazon.com. The pre order link attached to the gag became the #1 pre-ordered title in Amazon and Fox History! We continued the engagement-focused social strategy: hijacking – er, capitalizing – conventional and obscure holidays to celebrate the impending release… including everything from Mother’s Day, to Cinco de Mayo and even National Crayon Day (yes, that’s a real holiday). On Facebook we conducted a Home Entertainment industry first Facebook Livestream panel discussion between the stars/director and over two million fans (moderated by Deadpool’s favorite music ensemble Salt-n-Pepa, of course!). In more firsts Deadpool even took over the iTunes store, “photobombing” iTunes’ film main pages, encouraging visitors to ditch lame-ass titles and pick him instead. We conquested fandango, imdb, Rotten Tomatoes and movie theaters nationwide running in front of Captain America, reminding fans who wore the big boy pants at Marvel. To reach the core young male target, we even got Reddit to change their iconic “Snoo” logo to Deadpool’s signature image– a first for the site. Breaking industry standards we convinced Fox to release the Digital HD two weeks early to satiate massive fan desire, of course by letting them know that Deadpool was “coming early.” (Ahem, that never happens, he swears.) We didn’t stop there, and took things even further, encouraging purchasing a “hard” copy of the film with “Deadpole,” an elaborate parody of male performance enhancement ads seeded cross social media (complete with our very own real Cialis actress). The video became the second most viewed ad in facebook history within 48 hours. The finishing touch was using Snapchat to bring Deadpool closer than ever to his audience with a first ever Home Entertainment Snapchat story giving viewers a very revealingglimpse into a day in his life (including, naturally, leg day at the gym and a quick run to Target to pick up Deadpool on Blu-Ray), and a custom lens let fans try on his signature red and black mask.
Audiences were more than willing to engage with Deadpool and his twisted sense of humor long after he’d left theaters. While the campaign was humorous, the results were serious. Our Facebook Livestream garnered two million unique impressions worldwide upon live viewing, and an additional six million viewers via Facebook’s “Celebs and Movies” section… that’s over eight million total! Deadpool’s day on Snapchat exceeded one million impressions within 24 hours, and his lens delivered an additional 53 million impressions – dwarfing projections by over 5x. Our “Deadpole” video generated a staggering 18 million online views through paid digital media and another 15 million views via Facebook, becoming the platform’s second most watched (paid) video ever and over delivering on prognostics by more than 6x. All told, the campaign saw an estimated total of 200 million impressions across social media. This impressive level of engagement led to even more impressive sales. Fox Home Entertainment sales exceeded their goal by 50%. And for a campaign with under $1MM in digital media the results were incendiary. The Digital HD release topped sales charts (knocking off that little-known Star Wars film), dethroning The Avengers and Iron Man as Marvel’s #1-selling Digital HD release ever. It became Fox’s and the #1-selling Blu-Ray/DVD in over five years, and maintained a rank atop the charts for several weeks. Could Wolverine have done all that? Didn’t think so! Suck it!