How to break the Internet with marketing like Deadpool

Thanks to an unconventional character and an equally unconventional marketing campaign, the R-rated superhero comedy Deadpool has been a runaway success at the box office. Despite the warm reviews for the movie, Deadpool has almost received more attention for its off-the-wall marketing and viral videos.

Ryan Reynolds, who stars as the title character in the film, said, “I think…a lot of people are sad the movie is actually coming out because it means the viral videos are going to stop.” He promised they wouldn’t. From a testicular cancer awareness video to poop emoji billboards, there is no denying the fun Fox’s marketing staff has had with this movie. Here are three ways your marketing staff can have just as much fun successfully promoting your brand as the marketers for Deadpool did.

Know your brand inside and out

The Skull-Poop-L billboards began as a joking text between Ryan Reynolds and some friends, but quickly turned into a dare for the marketing staff. (Embedded from Facebook)

The Skull-Poop-L billboards began as a joking text between Ryan Reynolds and some friends, but quickly turned into a dare for the marketing staff. (Embedded from Facebook)

Not many marketing campaigns can function successfully on dares and poop emojis, but that’s exactly what the staff for Deadpool did. However, these marketing stunts succeeded because the marketers knew exactly who Deadpool was and how he would conduct a marketing campaign. Reynolds has called the marketing “an extension of the film,” meaning that Deadpool himself drives everything.

Only Deadpool could get away with a profanity-laced review from Betty White or a billboard making fun of Nicolas Sparks’ movies. As a marketer, ask yourself, “What could only our brand get away with doing?” While this probably won’t lead to a marketing effort as energetic as Deadpool’s, it will lead to your brand’s unique voice being expressed. The brand that knows how to play up its core values will be able to keep itself fresh and inventive in a dynamic media environment.

Find an unquestioned opinion leader

For fans of Deadpool, Ryan Reynolds isn’t just Deadpool in the film. He has become Deadpool. Rob Liefeld, who created the character, has called Reynolds’ portrayal of the Merc with a Mouth “the best version of Deadpool I have ever experienced in my life.” Reynolds first appeared as Deadpool in 2005 in the poorly received X-Men Origins: Wolverine and nearly stole the show from star Hugh Jackman. Since then, Reynolds has labored tirelessly to get the Deadpool movie made, and now has worked tirelessly to help market it. “It’s been so much of a harder job than the filming actually,” he said at a Talks at Google event. “But it’s been so much fun.” Needless to say, Reynolds’ opinion carries considerable influence with fans.

To give fans their first look at Deadpool’s costume, Ryan Reynolds and company spoofed Burt Reynolds’ 1970’s centerfold in Cosmopolitan. (foxmovies.com)

To give fans their first look at Deadpool’s costume, Ryan Reynolds and company spoofed Burt Reynolds’ 1970’s centerfold in Cosmopolitan. (foxmovies.com)

That influence allows Deadpool’s marketing staff much more creativity. If Reynolds delivers the content, fans will love it without question. Marketers can take their efforts to a whole new level when they have a figure that fans trust implicitly. Steve Jobs, Michael Jordan and Calvin Klein all took companies to great success through the sheer amount of trust consumers had in them. Whom do your fans trust? Recruit them and trust them to deliver your brand’s message.

Plan it to death

The best marketing campaigns seem organic. Most fans, however, don’t realize the sheer amount of planning required to capture that “organic” feeling. Having that much fun and creative license with your marketing means a lot of work. “I’ve never had a social media calendar I’ve had to adhere to, which is just crazy,” said Reynolds. Every single one of the viral videos made for Deadpool’s campaign, from the Australia day promotion to the “12 Days of Deadpool” Christmas campaign, had to be meticulously planned out and prepped. Making sure you have enough content to cover every opportunity—both planned and unplanned—will result in a successful and memorable campaign.

These three steps—Knowing your brand inside and out, finding unquestioned opinion leaders and planning your campaign to death—are just a few of the keys to making your marketing stand out. While your brand may not have the advantage of being a beloved, irreverent comic book character, these steps will help you create a marketing campaign just as vibrant and memorable as Deadpool’s. What else can you learn from studying Deadpool’s marketing?

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