Marvel Studios is known for its blockbuster hits including The Avengers, Guardians of the Galaxy, and recently Black Panther. What it’s perhaps not so known for is using its IP in clever ways to increase social media buzz.
Over the past few years, Marvel has defied standard convention and used unexpectedness to create moments that fans can’t help but share. Here are a couple notable campaigns that used unexpectedness to generate a lot of buzz.
Deadpool is not like most other heroes out there. The fact that Wade Wilson was once a villain aside, Deadpool is the quintessential antihero. He does many heroic things but often in atypical ways.
Who remembers crime fighting with “Angel in the Morning” playing in the background?
In addition to this, Deadpool also has a dark sense of humor and tendency to break the fourth wall.
All these characteristics provided the perfect fodder for Deadpool, via marvel, to mess around with other superheroes and standard convention.
And mess around he did with unexpected appearances leading up to the release of Deadpool 2.
One notable appearance was with Devour. Devour is known for their frozen meals.
No, not this kind…
…More edgy Stouffers for the 21st century male.
Here’s the advertisement that is jam packed with details and peculiarities.
This commercial has you asking all kinds of questions.
Is this a commercial for food? Is it for frozen food? No, wait. Is it to promote Deadpool? Are those animated macaroni in a casino? Why is there a unicorn that sounds like a car?
Regardless, the commercial, which jokingly had people declaring that Deadpool had sold out, generated a lot interest for Devour—taking them from relative obscurity to millions of views.
Deadpool also unexpectedly showed up on a bunch of Walmart shelves in a takeover of movie box art.
In typical Deadpool-fashion, Wade Wilson stole the spotlight from dozens of popular movie titles by integrating himself into the art.
Such a sassy pose, Deadpool.
Fans were more than excited about this takeover with many taking to Twitter to exclaim their interest in buying whole sets and the covers trending on reddit.
Black Panther Follows Through
At the end of Black Panther, T’Challa sets up Oakland to be a new bastion of science and innovation.
With the success of the movie, life quickly imitated art when Marvel’s parent company, Disney, announced a one million dollar donation to the Boys & Girls Clubs of America’s Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) programs in Oakland.
This act was widely lauded by thousands of publications and media sources who saw the tie-in as too perfect to pass up.
No Campaign is too Small for Ant Man
Not to be outdone by Deadpool and Black Panther, Ant Man had its bout with unexpectedness both for the first movie and recently.
In mid 2015, Marvel ran promotions for Ant Man by creating tiny billboards that were then placed around Australia. The billboards were very detailed including tiny LED’s to light up the signs at night.
Anyone walking by, might not have noticed the signs, making it even more special for those who had.
It caught the attention of redditor Camusfearna, whose mildly interesting post garnered a ton of attention.
Here are more photos captured of the billboards across cities like Brisbane and Melbourne.
Most recently, Marvel took Antman to Gulliver’s Gate in New York for a pleasant surprise for museum guests.
Nine different scenes were placed around the exhibit, making the most out of Antman’s varied size—including his larger than life stature.
What was otherwise a sideshow for people going to New York City, Marvel’s collaboration led to renewed interest in the museum and more people talking about Antman, in general.
A lot of getting people excited about your brand is being in the right place, at the right time. This can be difficult to achieve with so much noise and chatter already going on.
Using unexpectedness, catching fans and non-fans off guard, Marvel has been able turn buzz generation more into a science. It’s a science that will, no doubt help the company in the future and create many more exciting experiences.
What other businesses use unexpectedness to their advantage? How have you employed unexpectedness?