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Now entering into just its third week, Avengers: Endgame is smashing box office records left and right and is currently the second-highest grossing film of all time. The film has a Thanos-like grip on the public, and brands have lined up for their chance to capitalize on a film that’s already grossed over $2 billion. Yes, that’s billion, with a ‘b’.
Amidst all the excitement, I took a look at some of the more memorable brand activations during the lead-up to the release of the movie, and boy were there a lot. Don’t worry, I promise to abide by the firm “NO SPOILERS” rule.
This was one of the first ads I saw with the Endgame activation, the much-famed Geico Gecko envisions donning the Infinity Gauntlet and using his powers to…save people all over the world money on car insurance? A silly little ad, but one that I thought played out really well with the marketing surrounding it.
Audi Captain Marvel
In probably one of the most creative partnerships, Audi brings Captain Marvel up to speed on all of the technology and innovation she’s missed out on since the 90s, including the new series of Audi’s electric cars.
Another well-produced bit of advertising. This Coca Cola ad features a girl running late to the premier of Endgame, and has to battle her way through cinematic attacks, including a water balloon fight, only to prevail like Captain America with a trash can lid shield.
This is a great little Easter egg tucked away in Google’s search page. When you google “Thanos”, and click on the Infinity Gauntlet, search results begin disappearing in a nod to Thanos’ destructive power.
The mind-bogglingly popular game Fortnite (250 million players as of March 2019) partnered with Endgame to release a special crossover, where you try to defeat Thanos and stop him from acquiring the Infinity Stones.
What strikes me about all this is how the run-up to the release of a major film is no longer just a trailer or two, followed by a red carpet premier. Big, high-budget and well-written advertisements are no longer exclusive to the Super Bowl. This is an era where communicators have to treat every event and new release like it’s their own version of the Super Bowl.
This begs the question of how far this viral-style marketing will go. According to Deadline, Marvel had a whopping $200 million marketing budget for Endgame. Almost a quarter of a billion dollars to market a film. It’s incredible to see, and that budget was put to seriously good use. The brands they partnered with are top-notch, blue chip brands, like the ones mentioned above. The film’s marketers were keenly aware of the cultural impact this movie had the potential to have, and that companies would love the opportunity to put their brand stamp on it. The film marketed itself out to brands with huge names that could broadcast their messaging to vast audiences, similar to how Bud Light partnered with Game of Thrones at the Super Bowl to jointly promote their respective campaigns.
The lesson here is that effective communication and brand awareness strategies take more legwork than they ever have before, and brands need to be willing to lay traditional messaging tactics to rest. Audi literally developed an Endgame VR game that puts you in a space battle as part of its marketing strategy for the film.
But this also holds true for b2b and in-house marketers, especially in the media and entertainment space. These competitive fields require applying creative thinking to a communications strategy that puts more eyeballs in front of the screen, and that requires being on top of current trends in the industry.
Marvel took a completely diversified approach to its advertising of Endgame and, as demonstrated above, hit many different industries – including video gaming, food and beverage, automotive, etc. This type of verticalized approach guarantees that all different types of audiences will be dialed-in to the film’s messaging. Not pigeonholing your messaging into one or two areas is a lesson that everyone in b2b PR and marketing can learn from.
This is a year where Avengers, Game of Thrones, and Star Wars are all set to end their main storylines, and brands are ready to jump in to take their piece of the pie.
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