Marketers Assemble, Marketing & the MCU

By Madison Taylor
April 30, 2015

Tomorrow, The Avengers: Age of Ultron will be released to U.S. audiences, wrapping up what is known as Phase Two of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. At this point, there is clearly no stopping the success of these films. Ultron will represent the 11th movie to take place in the shared universe that Marvel has created and plans for future releases are unlike anything that has ever been attempted before in the history of film.

What can marketers learn from the MCU (Marvel Cinematic Universe)? As it turns out, the answer is “plenty.” For our purposes, let’s focus on three specific aspects.

Starting With a Simple Concept

Although it’s always a good idea to look at the big picture of what you want to see accomplished, you need to start somewhere. The MCU started with Iron Man, a movie concerning a character that, while popular, wasn’t a household name for the general public. The hero, nor his alter ego Tony Stark, had anywhere near the guaranteed popularity of say, Superman or Batman. To combat this, Marvel created a film that showed respect to the fans in terms of the character’s origin and persona, while making the film fun and inviting for those unfamiliar with the character. This is how your company can plan your marketing strategy. Instead of going full-force and inundate your intended audience with everything you have to offer, create a foundation on which you can build an empire. Once they trust that you can deliver on a smaller level, they’ll be more inclined to stick with you once you expand.

Identify the Big Picture

This is where the Marvel Cinematic Universe has truly excelled. Even the after-credits sequence of the first Iron Man movie showed that Marvel was ready to create an expanded universe even though it was an untested proposition. They may not have known all the details, but they were very aware of the broad strokes and teased audiences with the possibility of a complex universe and overreaching storyline. The story arc of the expanded universe as it exists now concerns the Infinity Stones, but the first of these stones were not seen or mentioned until the fifth movie, only one film short of closing Phase One of the MCU. The lesson to be learned here as a marketer is not only to know the big picture of what your marketing efforts are trying to accomplish, but to bide your time. If you rush things, you may not be able to fulfill the expectations that your potential and loyal customers may expect. Instead, carefully craft a long-term strategy that will bring you success for a long time to come.

The Use of Digital Marketing

You may be thinking to yourself, “Sure, this sounds great and all, but our company is not Marvel. We don’t have 75 years of history and dozens of popular characters to build on.” While that is true, you do have one element in your arsenal that gives you ample opportunity to succeed — digital marketing. Marvel quickly learned the importance of diving into the digital world as a way to bring their “product” to the masses. While expanding on the universe they had begun to create, Marvel used apps, videos, reveals, teases, and other avenues to place their cinematic universe front and center with its intended audience. This demonstrates a huge need these days to spread some of your resources and hit several outlets at once. Devise an e-mail marketing campaign. Post on Facebook and Twitter. Create video content. The more you can embrace digital marketing, the more likely you are to appease your fans and potential customers.

Even if your company is never as big as the Marvel Cinematic Universe, there are plenty of things you can glean from it.