Movie Marketing: Lessons From The Blockbusters

by PMA

Marketing Movies better

Unless you are a hermit living in a coastal cave, it’s been impossible to ignore the movie-theatre domination of Deadpool these past few weeks. On it’s opening weekend, the film raked in a massive $14.9 million in Australia, $135 million in the US and a combined $260 million globally. Now, even a coastal hermit has to admit that’s some serious cash.

In the present day and age, the question isn’t whether a film is good or not, it’s whether you think a film will be good or not. As soon as you’ve bought your ticket, the production house has made money. By all means, the film could turn out to be terrible, but you still went. And why did you do this? Movie marketing. That’s why.

All businesses – whether large or small – can learn something from movie marketing. Let’s take a look at two of the most successful campaigns of the 2016 season, Deadpool and Zoolander 2, to pinpoint just what made them stand out to consumers.


1. The first look
When superhero films are announced, they are usually accompanied with a photo of the protagonist. More often than not, the hero is striking some generic action pose that was obviously cooked up in a photography studio somewhere. Deadpool (who’s movie marketing team seemed intent on destroying every superhero cliché ever developed) went in a completely different direction. They left the photo studio, and entered the boudoir.

Lying on a bearskin rug in his iconic red suit, the unconventional superhero looks unmistakably Burt Reylonds-esqe. It was a memorable way to introduce the character to the audience, and set the scene for a not-so-serious action movie. (Now that’s not something you see in a Spiderman movie)

Deadpool marketing


2. April Fools Day Prank
After the first look was revealed, fans started asking another question: What would the movie’s classification be? To do the morally-flexible main character justice, many followers of the film believed it needed an R-Rating. But it wasn’t that simple. An R-rating significantly reduced how many people could see the movie, and completely filtered out younger audiences. Additionally, with Deadpool’s non R-Rated comic books selling so well, it seemed unlikely that Fox would deny adolescent moviegoers.

On April 1st, 2015, hard-core fans were left broken hearted after the movie’s official twitter set the record straight. Even though they still promised 4th wall breaking and a tonne of action, Deadpool would be PG-13.

Later that day, Ryan Reynolds was interviewed from the Vancouver set; commenting on the necessity of a PG-13 rating. All seemed legitimate, until a fully costumed Deadpool emerged and hit the interviewer over the head with a lighting unit. “Of course it will be rated R” the masked vigilante announces (cue rejoicing of adult fans)

What businesses can learn from Deadpool:
Don’t be afraid to show your brands personality in your marketing, it might just help you break through the clutter of messages your customers receive on a daily basis, and generate surprise, delight and suspense



1. Valentino Show

At the Valentino 2015 Paris couture show – one of the most hotly anticipated fashion showcases of the season – a curious event occurred. As the world’s most stylish humans sat front-row, anticipating the parade of the usual long-limbed models, Ben Stiller and Owen Wilson strutted out onto the catwalk. It was a brilliant display of guerrilla movie marketing, announcing the release of Zoolander 2 in a way that generated global interest. Whether you identified as fashion-obsessed or style-challenged, everyone heard about Derek and Hansel hitting the runway.

The genius continued by benefitting more than one partner. Paramount was able to announce the upcoming sequel to the 2001 hit in an entertaining way, and fashion powerhouse Valentino received publicity to a new audience ( one that didn’t religiously read the pages of Vogue magazine)

zoolander runway

2. Windows of Rome
A few days before Zoolander 2 was set to be released, Ben Stiller sent out a tweet: “Hey #Rome I hear Derek #Zoolander and Hansel are modelling at #Valentino store window in a little while.” Sure enough, the dashing male models were spotted posing up a storm and blowing kisses. Fans and bystanders swarmed around the windows, snapping up the event and posting it to social media. It was citizen journalism at it’s finest.

valentino zoolander windows

What businesses can learn from Zoolander 2:
Brands and movies are more interlocked than ever – going beyond a simple product placement or using film characters on packaging. Regardless of size, most businesses can benefit through partnerships; it gets the word out about your business to new, previously overlooked customers.

And what else did we learn? That a butterfly- embroidered suit is a timeless fashion choice.


What can we expect for the future of movie marketing?
Zoolander 2 and Deadpool are two completely different sorts of movies, in two completely different genres. Their marketing campaigns, however, share a similarity: they were both lengthy. A slow-build up of suspense over many months seems to have worked wonders for the films, and can work for your business too. Small, frequent and co-ordinated marketing efforts seem to pave the route to success.

And hey, if that doesn’t work, maybe it’s worth considering purchasing red-onsies or butterfly suits for your employees. Even the coastal hermit would have to notice that.