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?
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.
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.
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.