Deadpool’s Secret Formula of Brand, Tone, and Social Media Success



Deadpool made $130 million in its opening weekend at the box office, and a large part of the movie’s success is credited to the clever marketing and social media efforts leading up to its release.

Most people had never heard of Deadpool this time last year, but all of a sudden the film is breaking records at the box office during the most romantic weekend of the year. How on earth did this happen?

Social Media Marketing

Deadpool’s marketing campaign was incredibly well orchestrated and proved that social media can make or break a movie. We saw Star Wars build anticipation with snippets and hints, but Deadpool used a different approach.

Deadpool (played by Ryan Renolds) popped up all over the place in distinctive fashion. We saw his festive “12 Days of Deadpool,” where he encouraged us gentleman to keep an eye out for testicular cancer, and he mocked Australian individuals on their national day while rocking an Aussie cork hat.

Every time we saw him it was memorable and the marketing team did a great job in letting us know what we could expect from the movie. The framing was perfect: hilarious, ridiculous, irreverent, unexpected, and silly. But all of this went towards instilling a consistent tone, which has engaged the movie-going public.

We all knew basically what to expect with Star Wars, so they could afford to get away with hints and break box office records, but as a rookie in the game, Deadpool needed something different and they knocked their marketing out of the park.

The Deadpool comic features x-rated language, and displays a constantly meta awareness by engaging in dialogue with the viewer, and consistently breaks the fourth wall, as well as any other genre conventions that gets in the way.

The film studio put pressure on the movie makers to tone down the sex, violence and profanity in order to ensure a more mild rating and larger potential audience, but those making the movie stood strong and took the bold step of maintaining the distinctive tone of the comic.

While a PG-13 rating would have allowed for potentially more profit, it would have meant neutering the titular character and destroying what makes him unique. It’s worth noting that Deadpool has already done better at the box office than the critically-panned X-Men Origins: Wolverine in which a toned-down version of Deadpool first appeared on screen.

By finding a new way to present an origins story, and sticking to a clearly-identified, on-brand tone, the film has earned an 84% on Rotten Tomatoes, and broke all box office records for an R-rated film, especially in the superhero category.

Deadpool’s social media success actually predates the movie. It was leaked footage of the director’s pitch to the studio that started to build the hype that would see the film get the green light. By taking a risk and trying something new, the studio has been rewarded and, hopefully, we will start to see more risks taken with this kind of film.

Branding Lessons from Deadpool’s Success

The biggest lesson we can take from Deadpool’s success is that it’s good to be different. Not every company needs to be the same or appeal to the same people. Every company has a unique brand identity and personality, but defining and maintaining this persona is the tricky part.

Social media platforms give you the ability to reach more clients and brand advocates than you could even dream of, and even to target directly at the exact people you want to see your content.

However, social is a two way street and people following your channels need to be treated with respect and gain value from the time they spend viewing your original, branded content. If you’re doing the hard sell constantly, don’t be surprised if your numbers fall off.

Social marketing with movies is only going to grow more and more important, and if there’s one lesson we can learn from the success of Deadpool, it’s that social media campaigns can produce incredible return on investment. Making $130 million in its opening weekend is no easy feat, and the team behind Deadpool deserves some recognition.

Newsletter Subscription

Get the latest insights, trends and best practices from today's leading industry voices.

Watch SMW Live

SMW Insider is a premium video platform that streams more than 180+ hours of talks, presentations, and interviews from leading industry experts.

Subscribe Now

Write for Us

Interested in sharing your ideas and insights with the world? Become a SMW News contributor and reach 300k readers each month.

Apply Here