How “Deadpool” Could Teach Your Organization About Viral Marketing

By Madison Taylor
February 11, 2016

It’s no secret that Deadpool, a character whose first starring feature film shoots and slices its way into theaters nationwide tomorrow, is a polarizing figure. Fans love his biting humor and constant 90s references, whereas non-fans say he’s nothing more than a violent Spider-Man with guns and a potty mouth.

We’re not here to discuss the rights and wrongs of the character. No, we’re here to discuss how a series of marketing campaigns gave a second-tier character (and some might say third-tier) his own movie and how your business might be able to incorporate some of the details into its own marketing strategy.

Create Good Word-of-Mouth

Positive word-of-mouth can turn even the smallest marketing campaign into a success. This is especially true in this day and age of digital marketing, where videos go viral on what seems like a daily basis. Deadpool’s marketing strategy, though, started with something that wasn’t part of a strategy at all — it began with a leaked script written in 2010 by Rhett Reese and Paul Wernick (they also wrote Zombieland, in case you’re curious of their credentials). The script made the rounds on numerous websites and gained notice for its authentic take on the potty-mouthed character and its unique action (the opening sequence stretched 16 pages — unheard of by “normal” Hollywood standards). This serves as the perfect example of how a little word-of-mouth can go a long way, because it led to the creation of a teaser.

Give Consumers a Little Taste

Before you unveil a new product or service, it might be a good idea to tease your customers a little. Offer just a nibble to get them excited for when they can get the whole meal, so to speak. This is how Deadpool really got the public’s attention. It started just a couple of years ago when CGI test footage of the script’s opening scene was leaked online. Some have suggested that Ryan Reynolds, who plays the titular character, was the person who leaked the footage (he hasn’t confirmed it, but he hasn’t denied it, either). The test footage was a huge hit with fans, and even brought in a wave of new fans — and that is what pushed the studio into greenlighting the film.

Jump onto Trending Events

If you want your product or service to make a big splash, try to stay as current — or “trendy” — as possible. This is especially true when it comes to events like holidays and big sporting events. This is precisely what they did with the Deadpool character. For Christmas, he gave everyone the gift of a second trailer. When the Super Bowl came around, he was featured in a 30-second spot to promote the film. For Valentine’s Day, in addition to crafting posters that make the movie seem like it’s a romantic comedy, he released a video for the holiday that… well, we probably shouldn’t mention its contents here. And between these big spots was a series of smaller ones, including Deadpool creating his own Tinder account. The point is, if you can do this kind of stuff with your marketing campaign, you’ll keep people aware of who you are and what you can offer.

Be Loyal to Your Brand

Even though Deadpool exists in the world of Marvel, he is crass, violent, and self-aware (this last element means that he is aware that he’s a comic book character and can, therefore, break the fourth wall, i.e. speak directly to the audience). Adapting his comic faithfully meant making an R-rated movie, and as any studio executive will tell you, even the best R-rated movie has trouble getting anywhere close to the profits of PG-13 movies. To their credit, for better or worse, Fox (the studio behind Deadpool and the X-Men movie franchise) listened to fans and produced a faithful adaptation that is decidedly not kid-friendly. And the risk seems to be worth it — the movie is expected to make $65 million in its opening weekend against a $58 million budget… and a sequel is already being planned. What you should take away from this is that knowing what your brand represents and being loyal to that can equal a great degree of integrity within your customer base.
To take a lesser known character and bring him to the forefront of the cinematic landscape by way of marketing efforts is nothing short of phenomenal. For your own phenomenal marketing campaigns, get in touch with the professionals at Madison Taylor Marketing and we’ll help you take it to the next level.