Marvel’s Marketing is Out of Control

Marvel’s Marketing is Out of Control
Posted by on Apr 24, 2015

So if you haven’t heard, Avengers: Age of Ultron is coming out May 1st. If this is news to you I would first like to welcome you to the internet. To put this simply, at the time of this writing there are 11 clips, 11 TV spots, 3 full length trailers, and frankly I’m not entirely sure if I got them all. The amount of footage currently out is staggering. I’m not even counting the associated branded materials. Basically, there is a lot of information out there. Now, I have never had to market a film so I understand that my knowledge of the industry comes secondhand. However, I have been working in marketing for 3 years and I hope to one day work within the film industry. So if you’re from a film studio and reading this just, send me an email. All this to say I have some insight based on my feelings as one of the consumers of this marketing barrage.

As a Marvel fanatic, this amount of marketing material is both exciting and terrifying. I am divided between wanting to know as much as I can and keeping some of the mystery. Here is where I’ll begin. There is such a thing as over marketing. I’m sure you’ve had it happen. Sitting there watching TV and you see the same commercial at least twice while your watching one show. It gets pretty irritating. Imagine that but with each commercial it spoils the current show just a little more. How frustrating would that be?

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So frustrating

When the first Avengers came out, it had about 3 trailers and a couple of TV spots. Each one shared similar footage and still kept the mystery with any new footage they added. That movie, which had much less marketing involved, made just over $1.5 billion dollars. So far, Age of Ultron is set to beat that and it’s not because Marvel has been marketing out the wazoo. It’s going to be successful because for 3 years, Marvel has been building up to this movie. That is their biggest marketing ploy. It’s the whole benefit of having a cinematic universe, your movies become your marketing. The best representation is to look at the first trailer for each. At the time of this writing, the first Avengers trailer has just over 23 million views after 3 years. In comparison, the first Age of Ultron trailer has just over 72 million views in just about 7 months. Are you starting to understand the level of hype attached to this movie?

This is the point I’m getting at. Since each movie builds towards one big pay off, you don’t need to assault your potential audience. Just carry on as usual. In fact, in many ways it would be better to leave them clamoring for more. Giving them just the tiniest details that would encourage them to find out more. This barrage of marketing materials, which we have only covered the video for, is unnecessary for such a well-known property. This supported by the fact that the two major follow up trailers for Age of Ultron didn’t even crack half of the views the first one did. Now for a movie like Guardians of the Galaxy it was understandable. That group had to be introduced. The Avengers don’t. What would be better is to rely more heavily on niche marketing.

These are essentially their fans

These are essentially their fans

Since Marvel has such an outspoken fan base, or niche, I’m surprised they don’t leverage that more. You see, Marvel keeps a very tight lid on their goings on. The only thing’s that are ever really given that aren’t leaks are vague mentions of goings on. Instead, Marvel needs to embrace the leaks. For now lets call it espionage marketing. Strategically leaking information that will stoke the fire of their niche market. When ever there is a leak, geeks and geek sites everywhere dissect the information till there is nothing left. Figuratively building mountains out of mole hills to come to wild speculative junctures. What I would do is take some concept art or set photos and leak them along the way fairly early on. Making it look as if there is some kind of ‘mole’ within Marvel. You could even go as far as posting under a fake username on Reddit or other social sites with strong fandoms.

The best part, the materials you leak could be absolutely fake. When Age of Ultron was first announced, the majority of geeks assumed Ant-man, as the original creator of Ultron, would appear in the movie. Debates raged on since Ant-man was set to release after Age of Ultron. So what would it take to add fuel to this fire? Two thoughts come to mind, have some fake concept art drawn up of Ant-man meeting with the other Avengers or having Paul Rudd show up on set. With the concept art, take a photo with someones phone as if they were trying to hide the fact that they were taking the photo. Post it on Reddit or have them anonymously send it to some geek site. Then just sit back and watch. Redditors and readers will undoubtedly pick up on it to begin building their mountains. I would bet that this gives you at least a month of free buzz as people start to argue back and forth. Plus, it gives material to build upon or reference down the road.

Imagine a photo like this but with Paul Rudd

Imagine a photo like this but with Paul Rudd

With the set visit, you would follow a very similar process. The difference is hoping that someone scouting out the shooting location would spot Paul Rudd and spread the information themselves. Otherwise, take the photos yourself and spread them. For the cost of a plane ticket you could get a substantial amount of buzz. Hell, if you want to step out of the cloak and dagger of it all just tell Paul Rudd he’s going to visit the set. Then let him take some photos hanging out with the cast and have him post them. Much like Mark Ruffalo did a year ago. Those tweets Mark sent out were then picked up by geeks and news sites and then talked about. A very cheap way to create buzz.

I know that Marvel has all the money they want to throw at marketing. Just because they do, doesn’t mean they should. In case you didn’t read this and just skipped to the bottom. Let me summarize it for you. Sometimes you need Hulk marketing where you just throw everything you have and hope it sticks. Other times it’s better to take a Black Widow approach, precise, coordinated, and calculated for maximum impact. Especially when your franchise is already an unstoppable Hulk.

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What I Want From Daredevil

What I Want From Daredevil
Posted by on Apr 9, 2015

If you haven’t heard, the first of five Marvel Netflix series is premiering tomorrow. Daredevil is a blind lawyer by day and a blind vigilante by night. There have been a lot of details that have emerged leading up to the release. Reveals such as what Daredevil’s red costume will look like, some connections with Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., as well as a slew of trailers and promotional materials that will set the tone for the film. However, there are still a few things that I hope to see.

It has already been revealed that the Netflix Daredevil series will be rated TV-MA and much more brutal than past Marvel projects. What I want though, is to see Daredevil’s true brutality come out. Daredevil fights criminals, not maniacs dressed up in colorful costumes but stone cold killers. This is no better represented by the Kingpin. A mob boss who is truly ruthless in everything he does. What this means is that Daredevil will need to match that intensity. The promotional materials seems to point to this. One of the trailers has Matt Murdock (Daredevil’s real name) going to confessional, asking forgiveness for what he’s about to do. It seems a big theme will be the difference between heroes and villains, especially when they seem to use similar actions to achieve different goals.

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For instance, seeing this on film would be amazing.

 

Beyond the actual tone of the character, I hope we see plenty of references to the more street-level characters. These would be the other Netflix series AKA Jessica JonesLuke Cageand Iron Fist. I’m not expecting full on cameos since the casting for these others was confirmed after production. However, passing mentions related to these characters is all that is needed. What would be amazing is some references to Spider-man. Again, to my knowledge the production of Daredevil was largely finished by the time of the Spider-man announcement. With some post-production add-ins, such as some background radio broadcasts or something would be plenty. Why I’m pushing so hard for this is because Daredevil is a street-level hero walking among the people of New York. When you have regular people gaining extraordinary powers so far reserved for gods and billionaires, gossips spreads.

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The other character that I think needs to get referenced or even a guest appearance is The Punisher. Mostly because The Punisher is a dark character is as anti-hero as you can get. Instead of arresting criminals, he prefers to just outright kill them. This isn’t mentioning the fact that his origin story starts off with his family being murdered by the mob. What I would love to see is make the mob the Kingpin’s organization and we see Frank Castle (The Punisher) coming to Matt Murdock for help. When he fails Frank, Frank becomes The Punisher or tries to take matters into his own hands. This might be a long shot since The Punisher has apparently already appeared in The Winter Soldier. Yes it is played off as a joke but depending on exactly when Daredevil takes place, that cameo could be more true than we thought. Probably mostly wishful thinking but hey I can hope.

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The last thing I desperately want to see is the introduction of Elektra and The Hand. All you need to know about The Hand is that they are an evil organization of mystical ninjas. They have historically had strong ties to organized crime and the Kingpin. Elektra in turn became one of their lead assassins at one point and even dated Daredevil for a time. I would completely understand if Marvel wanted to save this stuff for season 2 but again, I would like to see the ground work laid out. Maybe you just have The Hand approach Kingpin or maybe they come up when the Kingpin is looking for an assassin. I’m sure they will show up eventually, I just hope it is sooner rather than later.

All of this to say that there is nothing but positive buzz surrounding Daredevil. Marvel so far hasn’t let us down and the trailers look amazing. The highlight of their promotional campaign has easily been their motion posters. Short little snippets that I believe will truly capture the essence of the show. Now we just have to wait a few more hours until we can watch all 13 episodes.

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What Disney Can Learn from Cinderella

What Disney Can Learn from Cinderella
Posted by on Apr 2, 2015

I finally got the chance to see Cinderella. First and foremost, it was thoroughly enjoyable. It didn’t blow my socks off, but it was well worth the cost of my ticket. Particularly the visuals and the overall aesthetic of the film. The best way to describe it is that it felt like the animated classic had been brought to life. Especially the bibbidi bobbidi boo dress transformation. Every actor was perfectly cast and all around this was a solid film.

However, everything about this film was totally expected. At no point was I on the edge of my seat nor was I curious about how it might end. Going into the film I knew this. I knew that it was going to be a pretty straight retelling, but that is exactly why it shouldn’t have been. Disney had a story that everybody knew and could probably recite from memory. So why give the audience what they expected?

Not that they needed to change any of the major plot points, they could have simply given the audience a twist. Think about the true love twist in Frozen or the true love’s kiss twist in Maleficent. They were small things that completely changed the meaning of the film. Especially when they turned Maleficent into the hero of the story and the king into the villain. The story largely stays the same and yet the meaning changes on a fundamental level.

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The easiest way that Disney could have done this is answer some of the questions that are left unanswered by the original film. The biggest of which is why Lady Tremaine is so mean to Cinderella. The movie plays it off as if she is hurt by the fact that Cinderella’s father didn’t marry Tremaine for love and that it appears he has a closer relationship with Cinderella than Tremaine or her daughters. Yet, it appears to be the exact opposite. Cinderella’s father marries Tremaine because he feels that he can be truly happy with her like he was with his wife. Not too mention that initially it will take time to build up the relationship with his new step-daughters. If anything she married just that she wouldn’t be out on the street. That gives a basis for why she is so grumpy but not why she essentially turns Cinderella into a slave.

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I assume Disney expects us to chalk this up to the old fairy tale trope that evil is evil and that’s that. Except for the fact that so far, these live action adaptations have been giving the villains reasons. We already talked about Maleficent but even The Great and Powerful Oz, not live-action animation adaptation I know, gave us reasons why the witches were wicked. Why does Lady Tremaine not get a tragic back story? The film itself was nearly two hours and with an extra 8-10 minutes we could have gotten what we needed. Heck you cut it down to even more if you just change her monologue a little bit.

What if instead of Lady Tremaine marrying the one she loves and then losing him, she never got her happy ending. It would explain Tremaine would be so set on ruining Cinderella’s positive outlook and it gives her a little more motivation for ruining her chances with the Prince. After all, if Tremaine couldn’t get her happy ending why should Cinderella? Going forward, I hope Disney has tries to answer those unanswered questions from their animated classics.

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Looking forward at Beauty and the Beast they could add some more depth to their characters all around. While Gaston could still be presented largely as just an atypical jerk, Disney could explain why the townsfolk are still so supportive of him. Maybe he is just a bully and at one point the townsfolk kind of realize. So to regain some of his popularity, he leads the town against the Beast. As for Beast, they could explain what happened to his parents and most importantly, they could fix the inherent timeline problems. Beast has to find true love by his 21st birthday. At one point is he turned into a Beast where he wouldn’t have learned how to read? Was he like 8 or something? Not too mention that it seems like it takes about a day to get to this castle and yet the townsfolk are completely unaware of a giant beast living their? All I am saying, is that Disney has the potential to improve upon their animated classic.

So far their casting is on point. With Emma Watson (Belle), Luke Evans (Gaston), Dan Stevens (Beast), Emma Thompson (Mrs. Potts), Josh Gad (Le Fou), and Kevin Kline (Maurice) as just the beginning, the cast is shaping up really well. Lets just hope they do the same with the story.