S3 Logo

What we can learn from the marketing campaign behind Deadpool

Deadpool: R-rated marketing that works

In case you spent Valentine’s Day weekend doing something other than watching Deadpool, a raunchy superhero comedy, you may be alone. It opened to a record breaking $152 million (on a budget of less than $60 million).  20th Century Fox should turn around and give its marketing team a high-five right now, because the movie’s success wouldn’t have been possible without the standout marketing campaign.

You’re probably thinking, “Why would selling a superhero movie be a challenge?” It seems they’re practically guaranteed to crush the box office nowadays. “With R-rated fare, gone are the usual Disney/Marvel avenues of outreach,” said Gary Farber, co-founder, Entertainment Research & Marketing, a research and marketing strategy firm. “Aside from that, we see Marvel films typically advertised everywhere — to all four quadrants — with ads on everything from kids’ TV to adult TV, from daytime to overnight (in Subway restaurants, etc.). Again, the R-rating restricts that.”

Luckily the marketing team was smart enough to use the character’s not family-friendly persona to its advantage, creating a barrage of irreverent TV, digital and social content.  I mean, if you haven’t come across any of the movie’s campaign, then you might want to consider moving out from under that rock.

So what can we learn from their strategy?

1. The marketing team needs to ABSOLUTELY understand what they are selling

The team didn’t just try to use the same techniques as other superhero movies. They understood the character and what the hardcore fans wanted.

2. Trust the team and remove the usual creative constraints

The team wouldn’t have been able to faithfully represent the character in the marketing if the studio didn’t take the gamble and give them a bit of creative freedom.




3. Give your pre-existing fans the tools they need to help you gain more fans

Deadpool isn’t the most popular comic book character out there but the character has a strong following.  The marketing team knew that getting the fanboys to buy tickets would be the easy part.  To help them convince their significant other to join them, they provided some cheeky and slightly misleading marketing material.




See some more of the marketing material below:


Deadpool Marketing



The S3 Agency and McMillan Announce International Merger

Six Signs it’s Time for a Brand Audit