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Published on February 8th, 2016 | by Ian Goodwillie


Deadpool: The Greatest Marketing Campaign Ever

Anyone who knows Ian Goodwillie, knows he’s excited about the Deadpool movie. He takes a look at the brilliant marketing campaign that hyped him up.

If you hadn’t heard by now, there’s a movie based on the Marvel Comics character Deadpool coming out just in time for Valentine’s Day. Wade Wilson is a graduate of the same research program that made Wolverine more metal. And he’s closely associated with the X-Men comics universe, though he has been known to torment several other heroes and villains. Deadpool doesn’t really fit under either category; he’s more of a force of nature.

A ridiculous, unhinged force of nature.

But the reality is that you have heard of this movie, assuming you have access to TV, radio, newspapers, or that little thing we call the internet. The marketing campaign is staggering in scope, volume, and effectiveness. And it will go down as one the greatest marketing campaigns for a movie ever.

It all starts with “leaked” test footage. In July 2014, SFX test footage directed by Tim Miller and filmed in 2012 hit the internet featuring the voicing of Ryan Reynolds. The project had been sitting on Fox’s back burner for year in large part to the criticism X-Men Origins: Wolverine, and Reynolds role in it, received. This movie was not a priority for the studio but the “leak” changed that. A fire was lit under fans who wanted the film, which led to the announcement that a Deadpool movie would finally be made. I keep putting “leak” in quotes because of how unlikely it is this was accidental. Despite claims of hackers, the footage was probably released to give the studio the push it needed to move forward on the project.

Jump forward to SDCC 2015 and the debut of the first trailer for Deadpool. It got a standing ovation. Then it got played again. This was the first glimpse of what the movie would actually look like, what kind of end product we would be watching. And it did not disappoint. This is one of the best comic book film trailers ever put together. It gives us a great idea of the film and definitely hypes the watcher. But it’s also just one trailer, a couple of minutes of an almost two hour film. It was enough to get comic book fans primed. Could this super inside the bottle character translate to a world of movie going fans not familiar with him?

So began one of the greatest marketing campaigns of all time for any movie, comic book or otherwise.

It’s hard to describe the full scope of this campaign. There are, of course, the usual trailers, TV spots, and behind the scenes looks but it’s gone so much further than that. This is just a small sampling of what was put together.

  • Fox launched The 12 Days of Deadpool, a viral marketing campaign featuring a variety of media that lead to the debut of a new, epic trailer for the movie on December 25th.
  • The now infamous emoji billboard caught attention around the world.
  • Deadpool released a video message for Australia Day taking shots at Wolverine and his first solo movie.
  • An entire sub-campaign was developed and released positioning the movie as a romance.
  • Showings of test footage turned out to be viewings of the entire film, which garnered excellent reviews.
  • A video was released featuring a costume clad Ryan Reynolds out on Halloween, showing off Deadpool’s famous rapport with kids.

This campaign is brilliant because it speaks to the core nature of the character and his story; it’s ridiculous but effective, and highly engaging to the public. Deadpool is not a recognizable name to non-comic book fans. The size of the campaign is necessary to get the name out there but the scope of it makes it memorable and a lot less annoying than most. Had they just gone the route of dropping incessant, out of context trailers, we’d all be tired of the movie before we’d even seen it.

Batman v. Superman, I’m looking at you. Again.

The other aspect they’ve effectively attacked in this campaign is the failure of Ryan Reynold’s first appearance as Deadpool in X-Men Origins: Wolverine and the ball dropping that was Green Lantern.

The reality is that Reynolds cannot be blamed for the flaws of either film; he was solid casting choice for Hal Jordan and an inspired casting choice for Deadpool. He was just given crap to work with in both cases. But rather than shying away from this, the Deadpool marketing campaign has leaned into it. Deadpool’s Australia Day best wishes video quite thoroughly takes a shot at his own appearance in Wolverine’s first solo outing. And the Halloween video even brings it up. Comments about and shots at Green Lantern have appeared several times, again in the Halloween video.

By not ignoring the past of the character on screen and the actor playing him, those behind the marketing campaign cut off the negativity before it could come back on them. And that started with the very first trailer.

Everything about this movie looks good so far. They chose their supporting characters well, going all the way back to Deadpool’s earliest solo mini-series in at least one case. The cast is solid, too. I’ll never complain about seeing T.J. Miller or Morena Baccarin in a movie. Regardless, Deadpool is a big swing for Fox, on par with the chance Marvel took with Guardians of the Galaxy. It has all the potential to fall flat on its face once it hits the box office, though that seems unlikely at this point.

Fingers crossed.

Knock on wood.

If nothing else, the box office numbers will certainly be there thanks to a brilliant marketing campaign. Regardless of whether the movie is good or bad, that’s all the studio needs to make a sequel.

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About the Author

Ian Goodwillie

is an established freelance writer, a regular contributor to both Prairie books NOW and The Winnipeg Review. He also writes two blogs that very few people pay attention to, a Twitter feed no one follows, and film scripts that will never see the light of day. He is very fulfilled by his career choice.

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