It’s very rare that a promotional campaign comes along as creative and off the wall as the one Fox created for its upcoming movie, “Deadpool.” So-called “viral” marketing campaigns can be very difficult, because it is hard to anticipate what types of content will spread organically. Fortunately for 20th Century Fox, their marketing team launched what can be seen as one of the most successful advertising campaigns for a movie in recent years.
If you are not familiar with the character, Deadpool is a movie about a wise-cracking mercenary played by Ryan Reynolds. While it is no surprise that movies based on Marvel properties have made a lot of money in recent years, but it was unsure if an R-rated more violent take on the superhero flick would be as popular. Luckily, Ryan Reynold’s portrayal mixed with the character’s wacky nature gave the marketing team a lot of ammunition to work with.
The very first official media of the movie came in March of 2015 in the form of a tweet by Ryan Reynolds himself dawning his costume in a picture very similar to a famous photo of actor Burt Reynolds. It became very clear that the advertising for the movie was going to take a very grass-roots approach. This use of social media and word-of-mouth helped to gain a lot of initial buzz on the film. Ryan Reynolds continued to gain buzz by posting other photos from production.
While the movie was starting the build up buzz, the first bombshell would be dropped on April 1st, 2015. Playing off of the fan demand for the film to be rated R, ExtraTV posted a video on their Youtube channel called “Is ‘Deadpool’ Going to Be PG-13? Ryan Reynolds Weighs In.” This video showed a brief interview between personality Mario Lopez and actor Ryan Reynolds. Without spoiling too much about the video, this was used as a part April Fools joke and part announcement that the movie would in fact be rated R. Little did fans know that this was just the start of Fox’s use of Youtube to promote the film.
During San Diego Comic-Con 2015, Fox finally debuted the first trailer for the film to attendees only. While this was not released to the public until much later, this didn’t stop the work-in-progress trailer from getting leaked online. Along with the typical trailer, Ryan Reynold also took part in several videos promoting the film. One of which was a Halloween-themed video that showed Ryan Reynolds in full costume talking some smack to kids dressed up as X-Men characters. Fox had also launched the “12 Days of Deadpool” campaign which had one video per day that lead up to the release of the second trailer.
Fortunately, Fox didn’t stop there with their absolutely wacky advertising of the movie. Due to the movie releasing on Valentine’s Day weekend, a satirical poster was released along with a trailer which re-cut of movie footage that made the film look like a romantic drama. Along with series of very cheeky movie posters, there was also a billboard that spelled the title of the movie in Emojis. To top off all of this wackiness, Ryan Reynolds even released PSA videos for testicular cancer and breast cancer respectively. And let us not forget the so-called “Superb Owl” spot during the 2016 Super Bowl.
Analysts are expecting Deadpool to have a $55M+ opening weekend so it is safe to say that Fox did a wonderful job with their viral marketing for Deadpool. Not only did the studio release amusing content that kept fans hungry for more but fans could tell that both the studio and Ryan Reynolds himself were having fun promoting the movie. It is unsure if Deadpool will be a longtime success for Fox but it’s safe to say that the marketing team behind this film certainly knocked it out of the park.