Marvel Studios has grown into a force to be reckoned with. Through innovative marketing strategies, they have developed a fan base that is dedicated and unwavering. When Marvel movies are released, they are packed and often sold out. Here are three marketing lessons any business owner can learn from Marvel Studios’ marketing campaigns.
1) Plan Ahead
Early on, Marvel Studios planned out the phases of the movies in the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU). They did this because the series of 24 films, as of July 2021, are all interwoven. Each film builds upon the ones previously released, featuring call back jokes and a continuation in story lines.
One of the most notable examples of this is in Captain America: Winter Soldier. About halfway into the movie, the Winter Soldier’s mask falls off during an epic fight scene. A scene that involves the famous Captain America, Falcon, Black Widow, and Hawkeye. At that moment, long-standing fans recognized who the Winter Soldier was: Captain America’s best friend, Bucky Barnes. This was a major plot twist since we all thought Bucky Barnes was dead in Captain America: The First Avenger.
Furthermore, at the end of Winter Soldier, there’s a fight scene between Captain America and Bucky Barnes in which Captain America refuses to hurt Bucky. Captain America tells him “I’m with you to the end of the line.” This was another call back to the first film, when Bucky tells Steve Rogers (before he’s transformed into Captain America) the same thing as a show of support after Rogers’ mother’s funeral.
Marketers can take the success of these strategies, and put them to work for their own clients. With three years between the release of these highly successful films, it’s indisputable how successful this meticulous planning is because the box office performance of both films shows the growth in popularity with consumers. Captain America: The First Avenger grossed $370.5M worldwide, while Captain America: Winter Soldier grossed $714.2M worldwide. Winter Soldier performed nearly twice as well given the planning and anticipation Marvel Studios consistently builds between movies.
2) Build Anticipation
In a world with the internet and many avenues for instant gratification, marketers’ ability to build anticipation for a product proves to be a challenge. However, Marvel Studios is a case study in why it works. In a bid to increase fan anticipation, nearly every MCU film contains end credits scenes. Often consisting of two separate scenes, these end credit scenes allude to what’s to come in the next movies.
In the final arc of the Infinity Saga films, there are several end credit scenes that further heightened fans’ anticipation. Avengers: Infinity War ends with Thanos successfully acquiring all six infinity stones and wiping out the existence of half of all life across the galaxy. The end credit scene for this movie shows Nick Fury witnessing people turning to dust in the city, so he runs to the trunk of his car to pull out a beeper. As he reaches it, he begins to turn to dust. He manages to send a transmission and when the camera zooms in, the audience can see that he was contacting Captain Marvel. This successfully built anticipation for Captain Marvel, which fans got to see the following year, prior to the final (and highest growing) film in this arc, Avengers: Endgame.
3) Be Consistent
Delivering a consistent product with a devoted consumer base is a skill that Marvel Studios has mastered. The Infinity Saga films, consisting of 22 of the 24 Marvel films, consistently delivered Marvel’s signature combination of action, adventure, and humor. Fans knew that when they saw a MCU movie, not only would they experience whichever challenges the marvel characters would have to overcome in that installment, they would also receive the next bit of the overarching infinity saga storyline.
This level of consistency led to great success for Marvel Studios’ Avengers: End Game. This movie concluded with the Infinity Saga storyline. Furthermore, fans consider Avengers: End Game the best performing movie of the whole franchise. Earning $2.7B gross across the globe, End Game became the highest grossing movie of all time (until Avatar regained the top spot nearly two years later).
Marketers can learn a lot from Marvel Studios’ Marvel Cinematic Universe. By replicating Marvel’s protocol marketers can increase the success of their marketing strategy. This would require marketers to plan in advance. As well as to create a consistent product and brand for your clients.
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