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The Ultimate Inbound Marketing Strategy Playbook 2022

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The Ultimate Inbound Marketing Strategy Playbook 2022

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4 Ways Marvel Killed It with Deadpool 2's Content Marketing

By Justine Timoteo Thomas

Justine Timoteo Thomas also recommends this free guide: The Ultimate Inbound Marketing Strategy Playbook 2022.

4 Ways Marvel Killed It with Deadpool 2's Content Marketing

I’ll be the first to admit that I don’t really understand the comic book world. I mean, I only just learned a couple years ago that Batman and Spider-Man are in two different universes -- whoops.

However, after meeting my comic book-loving boyfriend two years ago, I knew superhero movies would be in my foreseeable future. So, when he asked me one rainy night if I’d like to stream Deadpool, I conceded; “why not, I heard it was funny.”

Then, I was hooked the entire two hours. I loved the snarky nature of Wade Wilson and thought Ryan Reynolds was amazing at bringing the character to life.

Deadpool is the anti-hero.

He isn’t inherently good or bad and certainly does not take himself or his “responsibilities” too seriously. It should come as no surprise that Marvel created one of the most successful anti-marketing campaigns for Deadpool.

Free Guide: The Ultimate Inbound Marketing Strategy Playbook 2022

The original movie’s social and organic media coverage saw 200 million impressions, earning the movie the title as “Fox’s best performing Digital HD title to date.”

With Deadpool 2’s opening weekend bringing in more than $300 million, I think it’s safe to say the marketing is poised for a similar fate.

Let’s break down some of the best tactics Marvel used to market the movie.

1. Using Humor

Personally, Deadpool’s humor is what keeps me hooked.

I love that the movie and Marvel franchise makes fun of the traditional superhero blockbusters.

Take the trailer below as an example.

In it, Deadpool is trying to save a man during a robbery but struggles to change quickly in the nearby phone booth.

You can hear him make jokes about how he doesn’t understand how others change so quickly, and question why a phone booth is even on the street corner in today’s modern world.

Around Easter, "Deadpool" even released his own coloring book!

Marvel carried this humor throughout its marketing of the original film as well Deadpool 2,  giving audiences the chance to connect with the character himself and not just the movie as a whole.

Deadpool also frequently breaks the fourth wall.

With this technique, Deadpool speaks directly to the viewers, providing jokes, side commentary, and pop-culture references throughout the movie (and in turn, the promotional content).

It works because of its genuine nature. You forget that someone is simply acting as the character Deadpool and think of him as a relatable person you’d probably want to hang out with.

Even if you were like me and had no idea who Deadpool was a few years back, chances are you won’t stop laughing at some of his antics in the promos and trailers, leading people to share the content with friends and on social media helping drive up ticket sales.

Now, your brand may not be a comic book blockbuster, but take this as a lesson that you don’t have to always take your brand so seriously. Regardless of who your target audience is, we’re all human and laughter is a unifying emotion.

It’s OK -- even encouraged -- to have fun with your marketing.

2. Using Pop Culture to Resonate

Using existing stories or characters to tell your story is a well-known strategy for helping your message resonate with an audience. You’re able to draw upon something people already know to get your point across and be more easily remembered.

In this campaign, that’s what Marvel aimed to do.

Deadpool made headlines when the character took over other popular Fox movies in the entertainment departments in select Walmarts.

Rather than relying on just digital mediums, the team physically brought Deadpool and his antics to new places audiences members would be.

I don’t know about you, but I would never have thought I’d see him on the cover of Office Space while out and about. It’s unexpected, unique, memorable, and most importantly, worth talking about.

Even though this campaign was only in a few locations, thanks to social media, the covers made national news, further expanding Deadpool 2’s reach. Talk about a positive ROI.

3. Teaming Up with Other Brands

One of the most notable things Deadpool 2’s marketing did was partner with sponsors to produce cross-branded promotions.

For this unique campaign, Marvel worked with several brands to “hire Deadpool” as their Creative Director.

Espolòn Tequila was just one of the many brands to join the fun, along with 7-Eleven, Mike’s Harder, Devour and Trolli.

As Christine Moll, marketing director of tequilas and rums for Campari America (Espolòn’s parent company), explains, “Partnering up with Deadpool 2 gave us the opportunity to lean on the very popular trend to hire celebrities as a creative director, but [with] a fun, satirical twist we could only achieve with a character such as Deadpool.”

The outcome? Ridiculous ads that only Deadpool would be proud to submit as “creative.”


The key here was Deadpool picked the right brands to partner with.

According to Zachary Eller, evp of marketing partnerships for Twentieth Century Fox, Deadpool 2 was one of the first R-rated films to have such a large list of brand sponsors.

“We wanted to take an anti-approach to that and work with brands who were willing to have a lot of fun—not your typical brand partners.”

With this in mind, they found partners that could mirror Deadpool’s humor and voice to create authentic cross-brand campaigns.

When it comes to your marketing, consider teaming up with and leveraging other brands and partnerships when possible!

Start by choosing brands that have a similar voice and audience as you.

Even if you’re selling them two completely different things, you can create a campaign and a space where your brands overlap.

4. Capitalizing on Influencers

As any college friend of mine will tell you, I am an avid Celine Dion fan.

Celine and Deadpool -- not a pair you would envision in your mind, but that’s the beauty of this campaign and working with influencers.

Celine Dion sang the song “Ashes,” which appears on the motion picture soundtrack. So, in true Deadpool fashion, Marvel created a music video that brings the two together and incorporates humor in an otherwise dramatic scene and song.

If pop superstars aren’t your thing and you are more obsessed with sports, fashion or film, Deadpool also teamed up with David Beckham and Hugh Jackman.

Even if you don’t like or know Deadpool, chances are you’re familiar with one of these three influential celebrities and find the videos entertaining.

The big names and entertainment value leads to more views and shares, expanding the Deadpool reach even further.

That’s the biggest benefits of influencer marketing. By tapping into influencers your audience loves and listens to for guidance, you can leverage their established audience and trust to expand your reach and possibly win over new audience members

The Lesson: Staying True to Your Brand

So why did these tactics work so well? Because Deadpool 2 did the number one thing you can do in marketing: stayed true to its brand and audience.

As HubSpot co-founder Dharmesh Shah explains, “Although it is still possible to blast the world with your message and offering, and try to interrupt your way into people's lives with your marketing, that's the most expensive way to do it. The cheaper and better way is to tell a story or share something helpful and useful -- that's the power of content marketing.

All of Deadpool’s content marketing efforts and tactics not only delivered value to audiences, but they aligned perfectly with the character and movie. Every video, ad, or display set expectations for what people would get in the theater and gave fans more of what they love, building a stronger and more loyal fanbase each step of the way.

Just because you’re not marking a summer blockbuster movie, that doesn’t mean you can’t draw on lessons learned from a kick-ass marketing campaign (pun intended).

Do you love something else about Deadpool’s marketing that I missed? Let me know in the comments below!

The Ultimate Inbound Marketing Strategy Playbook 2022

Free Guide:

The Ultimate Inbound Marketing Strategy Playbook 2022
Read the Playbook
The Ultimate Inbound Marketing Strategy Playbook 2022

Free Guide:

The Ultimate Inbound Marketing Strategy Playbook 2022

Take your inbound strategy to the next level

  • Master the 7 principles of highly effective inbound marketing
  • Dramatically improve your inbound sales
  • Get more buy-in at your company


Content Marketing
Published on May 24, 2018

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