Breaking the fourth wall

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A year ago, I didn’t even know who Deadpool was. (And I’m not the only one.) That all changed when Ryan Reynolds tweeted a teaser photo in his Deadpool suit à la naked Burt Reynolds on a bearskin rug.

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By now you are familiar, if you weren’t already, with the Deadpool movie. If you have no idea what I’m talking about, you probably haven’t tuned into TV or social media over the past 6 months. Deadpool’s marketing team saturated every platform imaginable — social media, emojis, billboards, email newsletters, TV cameos, talk show appearances, click bait ads, Comic-Con, Pornhub, 3-hour long blocks of only Deadpool ads on five networks, timely holiday-related ads, and even Tinder. Yes, Deadpool had his own Tinder profile. Because who wouldn’t swipe right for Deadpool’s witty charm and muscly spandex suit? (The answer is no one.)

Deadpool’s marketing team pushed the envelope of traditional movie marketing, exploiting their protagonist’s vulgar, comedic demeanor to promote the film in unconventional ways. Unlike typical Marvel superhero movies, 20th Century Fox primarily used the irreverent, anti-hero Deadpool character to promote himself by breaking the fourth wall and speaking directly to viewers rather than utilizing typical superhero movie-based promotions. And Deadpool didn’t hold back.

It was a risky strategy, but the loud, in-your-face marketing tactics paid off. Deadpool raked in over $152 million in its opening weekend and broke numerous records, including biggest opening ever for an R-rated movie, despite being released in February, which is often considered a “dump month” for less successful movies.

So what can we learn from Deadpool’s marketing team? Stay true to your brand, or in Deadpool’s case, your main character. Be fresh. Nothing turns consumers off quite like overdone, unoriginal content. And above all — completely understand your brand and what you’re trying to sell.