Deadpool Viral Marketing Campaign

Marketing 2016-02-16

For those who are not familiar with the character Deadpool (real name Wade Wilson), he is a mentally unstable, foul-mouthed, disfigured mercenary in the Marvel Universe. His main superpower is an extremely accelerated healing rate however, one of his most important features is that he breaks the fourth wall i.e. he is aware that he is a fictional character. You will now find Deadpool in cinemas starring in his own feature-length film (played by Ryan Reynolds), aptly titled “Deadpool”. This has enabled a viral marketing campaign unlike anything we have seen before, giving Deadpool massive coverage months before even being released. In this blog I have explored a few of the viral marketing pieces the marketing team behind Deadpool have used to promote the film.


As mentioned above, Deadpool is extremely foul-mouthed as well as violent. When the film was announced, fans of the comic book iteration were, though initially excited about the film, concerned that the studio wouldn’t stay true to the comics and make the film a more family friendly PG-13 (as opposed to an R). On April 1st 2015 (April Fool’s Day) an American channel was interviewing Ryan Reynolds about the PG-13 rating announced earlier that day for the film. During the interview Deadpool appears in the studio behind the interviewer and takes him out with some set equipment. He then goes on to address the audience that his film is actually going to be rated R. This not only addressed the age rating concerns of the film but also introduced new audiences to Deadpool and demonstrated the fourth-wall breaking features of the character. You can watch the interview here.



The marketing team have capitalised on just about every holiday going over the past few months. During Halloween they released a viral video of Deadpool recruiting some young trick-or-treaters (dressed up as different members of the X-Men team). You can watch the video here.



Yet again utilising the holidays, this was a spin on the classic 12 days of Christmas. The 12 days of Deadpool gave audiences a new piece of promotional material each day, ending with a brand new trailer on Christmas Day. The campaign included new posters, pages of the script (annotated by Deadpool) videos, GIFs, a Christmas newsletter and even a set of emojis.



In this video, Deadpool is playing football with the Manchester United team, scores a penalty and then celebrates with several high profile United players. He then rounds off his celebration by kissing Wayne Rooney on the forehead only to then wake up from a dream. This video was posted by the official Manchester United social media accounts accompanied by a picture (see below). This is a great piece of marketing, utilising one of the biggest fan-bases in the world (around 9.5% of the world’s population support United) to reach out to markets not yet aware of Deadpool. Manchester United are the most followed team in the world on social media with over 116 million followers across all accounts, this gives the sponsored Deadpool posts a huge reach. You can watch the video here.



Though the film’s release was around Valentines Day, Deadpool probably isn’t the typical or even ideal date film (though I’m sure plenty of people out there who would argue that it could be).  However this has not stopped the marketing team from doing their best to put a romantic spin on Deadpool with some parody posters that probably don’t quite capture the essence of the film that accurately (see below).



Using emojis has become incredible popular in recent years and a lot of brands and films now pay to have their own emojis on Twitter. However, although Deadpool didn’t use Twitter emojis in its marketing campaign, they did make good use of them in a few billboards (see below).  This really captures the humour Deadpool often uses, and combines a new form of advertising (emojis) with a much older, longstanding form of advertising (billboards).



Any self-respecting marketing team behind a major spring/summer feature film has to seriously consider a SuperBowl ad and with an audience of over 110 million every year, the Deadpool marketing team certainly didn’t pass up on this opportunity. The 30-second TV spot started with Deadpool addressing the audience, telling them why he always wanted to be a professional athlete (his reasoning isn’t the most conventional) and finishing with some footage of the film. You can watch this here.


This is probably my favourite piece of viral marketing from the Deadpool movie. Avideo made in association with the Testicular Cancer Awareness Foundation (TCAF) and BallBoys charities showcased Deadpool giving men a tutorial on how to check themselves for testicular cancer (in his own eloquently worded way of course). This is not only great PR for the film but raised awareness of an important issue that not enough men take seriously. The ad even came with the hash-tag ‘#touchyourselftonight’ to complete the campaign. You can watch the video here.




As you can see, a lot of effort and money was utilised to create a successful campaign surrounding the release of the movie. But, have all the marketing efforts been successful? You bet it has. Deadpool grossed over $260 million worldwide in its first week off a budget of just $58 million! This includes making over $150 million in the US box office alone over their extended President’s Day weekend, a record opening for an ‘R’ rated film. Considering the superhero genre is very much a saturated market at the moment, bringing a relatively unknown superhero to the big screen in his own film for the first time could be considered something of a risk. However, with such a great marketing campaign combined with rave reviews, Deadpool has no problem holding his own at the box office.


Let me know what your favourite piece of marketing from the Deadpool film has been by tweeting me @JordanAtNotch!