By now, even if you have been trapped in one of those one-man submersible vehicles at the bottom of the ocean, you’ve heard about Deadpool. He’s unavoidable, all is Deadpool right now. Everything. Forever. The hype is real, and so is the marketing campaign built around the movie. You’re either 100% on board with it (as I am), or you already have Deadpool fatigue (as do a few unnamed FSR colleagues). If you’re in the latter group, I get it. He’s ubiquitous right now, popping up everywhere from handing out chimichangas at the Super Bowl to Tinder to Porn Hub (yes, really).
But if you are suffering from Deadpool overload right now, then you should turn around and high-five the movie’s marketing team because, well… that’s the point. In an age where a handful of films have flopped due to the muddle messaging of their marketing campaigns, the campaign for Deadpool shows what’s possible when a marketing team absolutely understands the character and story it’s promoting.
The marketing campaign is essentially a live action recreation of Deadpool’s role in the comics. The Merc with the Mouth is everywhere, with no less than four comic book series devoted to him at the moment: Deadpool, Deadpool & the Mercs for Money, Cable & Deadpool: Split Second, and Spider-Man/Deadpool. He’s become an Avenger; he’s formed his own Deadpool doppleganger army; he’s died and been reborn. And through it all, he’s managed to annoy just about every other Marvel superhero he’s teamed up with due to his unpredictability and the fact that he almost constantly seems to pop up where he’s not wanted (but usually ends up being needed). You don’t love Deadpool because he’s normal, you love him because he’s not. He never stays in his lane because he has no lane, and the marketing team understands this.
Yet the marketing has been strategic in another way. He is so weird and so unlike any comic book character audiences have seen before that the campaign almost has to be a blitzkrieg to get a broader audience on board. By now, moviegoers have wrapped their heads around the idea of the classic cape-and-cowl superhero, and they’re starting to understand the idea of the roguish anti hero, like Guardians of the Galaxy or the upcoming Suicide Squad. But if Batman, Superman, and the Avengers were the first wave, and Guardians and the Squad being the second, then Deadpool is a distant third. There was simply no way to present him in a way other than to have a marketing campaign as utterly insane as the character himself. Those who get the marketing campaign get him, and those who don’t wouldn’t have gone to see the movie anyway.
The thing is, Deadpool isn’t a movie for comic book movie fans. They were already going to see this movie from the start; he’s that much of a fan favorite. Deadpool is a movie for people who aren’t fans. The campaign, while delighting fans, has also been so in-your-face that even those unfamiliar with him have been curious to see what the weird, wacky movie is all about. It also helps that his natural tendency to break the fourth wall and speak directly to the audience as the only comic book character who knows he’s a comic book character has made Deadpool seem like one of us, a flawed schmuck who realizes that the movie he’s in is exactly as batshit crazy as we think. Nor does he really give a damn that his face looks as if, as TJ Miller’s character says in the red band trailer, he “face-fucked a topographical map of Utah.” We may not be able to relate to the billionaires Batman or Iron Man, and we may not be able to relate to the physically perfect specimens of Captain America or Superman, and we may not be able to relate to the genetically enhanced super spy Black Widow. But we can sure as hell relate to a guy who cracks jokes at his own expense and doesn’t quite have a handle on himself. Every Time Deadpool winks at us conspiratorially in a trailer or TV spot, potential audiences that are growing weary of superhero films know they’re in for something else entirely.
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And it’s working. The social media buzz, according to comScore’s PreAct, is sitting at a damned impressive 98%. Moviepilot, which tracks social media buzz for movies, explained that the ratio of people who click “like” on a YouTube video usually runs about .02-.06, with a rating of .06 or .07 considered quite good. Deadpool is clocking in at a 1.04 ratio, which is mind-boggling in terms of positive feedback. Bemoan the bombardment all you’d like, but the bottom line is, it’s been effective beyond Fox Studio’s wildest dreams. It shows what can happen when a marketing team is given free rein by filmmakers and a studio to sidestep all the red tape that usually bogs down movie marketing campaigns. So if you feel as if you can’t escape Deadpool right now, good. That’s the point.
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