Once Upon a Deadpool – Marketing Recap

Recapping Fox’s quick marketing campaign for ONCE UPON A DEADPOOL.

once upon a deadpool poster 2It’s not unusual for studios to occasionally rerelease big movies, particularly around the holidays or at other key moments where there’s the potential to reach new audiences or ask old ones to come out to revisit a movie they enjoyed the first time around. What *is* unusual for a movie to get a whole new version that eliminates one of its key selling points from its initial release.

That’s just what Fox is doing with Deadpool 2, now rebranded as Once Upon A Deadpool and hitting theaters today in a new, slightly scrubbed version that sports a more welcoming PG-13 rating. It’s a risky move given that the primary value proposition behind the Deadpool franchise has been that the character is unapologetically vulgar and violent. To help counter whatever concerns might be out there Fox has mounted a mini-campaign that is just as meta and playful as audiences have come to expect from the character.

The Posters

once upon a deadpool posterThe first poster was appropriately insane, showing Deadpool sitting behind Fred Savage, the latter wearing the same Chicago Bears jersey he did in The Princess Bride, on a red-nosed reindeer, the latter helping to convey the movie’s release timing to the audience. Oh, and the framing of the poster is just what’s seen on the one-sheet for The Princess Bride, just to help reinforce that point.

The second, released just a week or so prior to the movie hitting theaters, hits the “second coming” theme by showing Deadpool at the front of a choir of angelic beings that includes Savage and a host of band members heralding his arrival with trumpets and more. That image wound up being the subject of a backlash from the Church of Latter Day Saints since it recreates a famous painting associated with that group.

The Trailers

In the middle of November, just about a month out from release, a trailer (22.4 million views on YouTube) wsa put out featuring Deadpool talking with Fred Savage, who’s laying in bed in a Bears jersey just like he was in The Princess Bride. Only we have a bit of a Misery situation here, with Savage being tied down to that bed. We get a bit of footage from the movie, including some new stuff, before we’re back to Savage taking a shot at Deadpool’s status as a non-MCU Marvel movie.

Advertising and Publicity

A TV spot released at the end of November took roughly the same approach as the trailer while another a couple weeks later had Deadpool answering questions from Savage about himself and the movie that echoed much of what the audience had been wondering since this release was announced.

At about the time the actual marketing of the movie started, Reynolds explained how a big part of the reason he finally agreed to a PG-13 cut of the movie was an agreement to have a portion of the proceeds go to a cancer charity. He also offered some details on the single day of additional shooting that was done to add the Fred Savage framing scenes.

The charitable angle was the focus of a video released by Reynolds that had Deadpool and Savage having an initially heated discussion about Nickelback. Another clip showing the two of them revolved around how Deadpool is bleeping out his own cursing in an effort to avoid that R rating with this version of the movie.

On the day the movie hit theaters Fox released a promo featuring “poorly paid actors” hired by the studio – a disclosure that appears at the bottom of the screen – touting the fact that there’s finally a version of Deadpool that the whole family can enjoy.

Outside of that, the movie generated lots of speculation and discussion around *why* Fox was making this move right now. Plenty of essays and op-eds were written about how it’s meant to fill a hole in the studio’s end-of-year release schedule, or that it’s a trial balloon floated by the studio to show its new Disney owners it could play nice with the character and make him more amenable to a potential crossover with other characters.

Overall

Whatever Fox’s rationale or reasoning, it mounted a fun and appropriately self-effacing marketing push in a very limited time window. That campaign has not only worked to get people once more talking about Deadpool but also, in some way, set expectations in a way that if it turns out to be a complete disaster it’s kind of already acknowledged that could be a possibility.

If anything, the campaign itself adds to the character’s brand perception instead of detracting from it, which surely was a real concern. That will surely help in the long run, no matter what the future of the Merc With a Mouth is under his new corporate management.

Picking Up the Spare

While it was mostly an infomercial for his gin company, Reynolds did talk about the movie in a “Today Show” appearance.

Movie Marketing Trends 2018 – Augmented Reality

Augmented reality is, to steal a line from Beck, where it’s at.

While some of us who are old enough have been awaiting the full, immersive virtual reality experience promised to us in Lawnmower Man in 1992 (minus the homicidal inclinations), AR has shown to be more promising as a consumer product. At least for the moment, the way augmented reality has been positioned as a portable creative outlet has helped it build significant interest in the consumer tech and marketing fields. According to Digi-Capital, AR adoption will far outstrip VR for the foreseeable future.

One big reason AR is so popular is, for lack of a more technical term, that it’s so much easier to carry around with you. VR is still hobbled by cumbersome goggles and other accouterments, even its most (currently) advanced incarnations. As anyone who played Pokemon Go last year or who has done roughly anything on Snapchat knows, AR is right there in your pocket, adding a bit of animation to the world around you.

There’s plenty of speculation as to what the future of advertising and marketing might look like in an AR-enhanced world. The movie marketing field isn’t waiting for tomorrow, though, and is in the middle of full embrace of the technology to help sell some of Hollywood’s biggest films. That includes some major releases coming out this summer, but the water has been tested by others already. Let’s look at some recent and upcoming AR executions from the studios.

Deadpool 2

deadpool 2 arNext time you’re stopping into your local 7-Eleven for coffee and reminding yourself that hot dog would be a bad idea, pull up the store’s app and get a guided tour from an AR version of the Merc With A Mouth himself. He’ll scribble over the selfie you take while pulling a special Slurpee into a movie-branded cup. Scannable codes around the store will unlock exclusive content as well. You can get a look at some of what awaits you in the commercial to promote the tie-in.

Solo: A Star Wars Story

solo holochess arAn AR version of Dejarik (aka “holochess”, the game it’s always a good idea to let the Wookie win, even if he didn’t initially get it) has been added to the popular Jedi Challenges mobile game from Lenovo. The original version of the game required special AR goggles but an update aided by ARkit means you can play it on iPhones or iPads without additional equipment, just in time for the movie.

Pandas

pandas imax arThe IMAX original documentary was recently promoted with an AR component including an animated, anthropomorphic panda that kids, the target audience for the film, could ask questions of and get answers from. That’s very much in line with the goals of the filmmakers, who sought to educate young audiences about the conversation efforts being undertaken around the animals.

Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom

jurassic world aliveThe Pokemon Go concept is being brought to the world of dinosaurs with Jurassic World Alive, part of the marketing for this summer’s sequel. Players roam their neighborhoods and other locations looking for dinosaurs, including some of the new creatures featured in the movie. When they collect DNA samples from the creatures they can grow their own in incubators, including the ability to create original genetically-modified dinosaurs of their own. Because that always works out so well.

Rampage

rampage arThe slightly-on-the-nose branded “AR Unleashed” app allowed users to add the genetically-enhanced monsters featured in the movie to the world around them. People were encouraged to get creative with the situations they put the creatures in and enter their work into a contest, the winner of which joined Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson on part of the movie’s publicity tour.

Ghostbusters

ghostbusters world arWhile we wait to see what the next cinematic incarnation of the franchise will be (I’m personally hoping for a sequel to the 2016 film), mobile users will be able to play Ghostbusters World an AR game, coming out later this year, that incorporates ghosts and story elements from all the movies, cartoons, comics and other media. The game was announced by Google at Mobile World Congress alongside the launch of its ARCore 1.0 developer platform.

Ready Player One/A Wrinkle in Time

ready player one arBoth movies were part of initial tests by Facebook of its AR Target Tracker and involved posters placed at bus stops and other outdoor locations equipped with that technology. For A Wrinkle In Time, scanning the posters added reality-bending effects like those seen in the movie. For Ready Player One, doing so opened a portal to the OASIS, the VR world the story largely takes place in.

Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle

jumanji ar

As an illustration of how much popular apps are driving the adoption of AR, Snapcodes added to the packaging of Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle allowed users to unlock movie-themed World Lenses that brought a couple different experiences to life for Snapchat users.

Justice League

justice league facebook arAnother promotion involving Facebook, this time the effort used the social network’s Camera Effects Platform. Choosing one of the characters from the movie, you could add their mask to your selfie and trigger various additional effects with different facial movements.

These are just a few of the AR executions that have happened in support of various movies in the last year or so. It’s not just studios that are getting in on the trend, either. Way back in 2013 theater chain AMC added AR stickers to select movie posters in theaters that, when scanned with the app, opened up trailers and other related content. Earlier this year in-theater advertising network National CineMedia introduced the Noovie ARcade app to let moviegoers play AR games while not talking to the person sitting next to them.

Moviebill introduced an AR-enhanced playbill handed out exclusively at Regal Cinemas locations to those with tickets for Avengers: Infinity War that, when scanned with the Regal app, the displayed exclusive videos and other content, all of which was ad-supported. Future editions will support Deadpool 2, Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom and other big releases.

Are there more AR-assisted campaigns coming down the road? You’d have to assume the answer will be “yes.” Looking ahead a few months at movies like Ant-Man and the Wasp, Skyscraper, Teen Titans Go! To the Movies and others there are definitely some possibilities for augmented reality to come into play.

More than that, though, if the technology continues to get more and more user friendly thanks to efforts by Snap, Google, Apple and other companies there will be more and more studios and other marketing professionals looking to catch the wave. User adoption numbers are few and far between for any one execution, but success usually breeds continued usage, so if each new promotion speaks to some extent to the success of the last one.

Chris Thilk is a freelance writer and content strategist who lives in the Chicago suburbs.

Deadpool 2 – Marketing Recap

deadpool 2 posterThe marketing of 2016’s Deadpool was..well…it was unlike most anything that had come before. It certainly struck a much different tone than the campaigns for any of Fox’s other X-Men Universe movies, which were super-somber and serious, with all the mutants making Very Determined Faces as they engaged in Very Serious Situations. There wasn’t a lot of joy there.

For Deadpool 2, out this week, I wrote over at The Hollywood Reporter about how the marketing of this sequel has kicked things up a notch from the foundation the first movie set. There are elements that are more outrageous and others that are a bit more standard than what was seen in 2016, but all of it is still very fun. In addition to what’s there, below are a few publicity beats I wanted to make sure weren’t missed.

Media and Publicity

At various times Brolin offered some praise for Reynolds, calling out his work ethic and talent.

While she was promoting “Atlanta” at the time, Beetz spoke here about why she decided to sign on for multiple super hero movies and how she trained for her role in this film.

Things really kicked into gear with a feature cover story in EW that reinforced how much the character and the actor who plays him have in common. It also had Reynolds talking about how a third movie would, in his opinion, have to a stripped-down, zero-budget production that’s super gritty, offering no comment on Deadpool’s future should Fox and Disney join forces and more. Everyone glommed on to his saying he’d never seen the finished Green Lantern movie, but most of that commentary misinterpreted his basically saying it’s not that unusual for him to not watch his own stuff.

Similarly getting a lot of attention was his revelation that yes, Fox asked him to cut a Disney joke, though he doesn’t specifically claim that was due to the pending merger. In that package, Brolin talked about his workout routine to get Cable’s body and how much he loves the 2009 Reynolds-starring romantic comedy The Proposal.

A New York Times profile of Reynolds hit a lot of those same beats but put them in a more personal context, talking about how he’s really kind of a low-key guy who’s racked by insecurity over his career and personal life.

One last video came out that had Deadpool/Reynolds apologizing to David Beckham for the joke about the soccer star made in the first movie, which he claims not to be aware of but who does want Reynolds to apologize for some of his less-than-great previous films.

Chris Thilk is a freelance writer and content strategist who lives in the Chicago suburbs.