Big Budgets and Big Marketing: How Marvel Are Winning the Infinity War with the Box Office

IMG: Marvel Studios

You can’t help but marvel at the way superhero blockbusters are capturing the imagination of audiences worldwide. Last month we looked at the marketing tactics behind mega-hit Black Panther, but the latest offering from Marvel looks set to blow even that out of the water.

The Avengers: Infinity War is a ringing endorsement for the old adage that bigger is better. Everything about the film is super-sized, from the unprecedented all-star cast to a huge  marketing budget and ambitious promotional strategy, as we explain …

Marvel Assemble Heroes from Different Franchises for an Infinity War

This is more than Alien vs. Predator. The Avengers: Infinity War gathers stars from several franchises in the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU). Characters from The Avengers (itself a crossover film) and Guardians of the Galaxy combine to attempt to save the universe from intergalactic despot Thanos, who strives to rebalance the universe by eliminating half of all life.   

It makes for a breathless and action-packed affair, without sacrificing narrative. The film’s directors have walked the tightrope between story and spectacle to a widely positive critical response.

Strength in Numbers: Record Breaking Marketing Spend

Deadline have stated an estimated marketing spend of more than $150 million US for Infinity War. A large chunk of that cash went to partnerships with major companies such as Coca Cola, Duracell and Samsung, who created TV spots featuring Avengers characters to promote the movie.

In addition to these costly marketing efforts, Marvel and Disney fought to get bloggers, influencers and genre fans on their side to create a social media frenzy. If early indications are anything to go by, their commitment has paid off – the worldwide opening weekend numbers for the film are astronomical, with a $630 million return making for the biggest opening weekend ever.

Infinity War CastIMG: Marvel Studios

They Are Making Use of a Bunch of Online Platforms

Infinity War’s huge ad spend allowed for Marvel to focus on all major online sources, even those you wouldn’t necessarily associate with film promotion. They even recruited Spotify, allowing users to assemble 6 of the heroes from the movie for a ‘battle-ready playlist’.

It doesn’t hurt to have an endless sequence of A-Listers at your disposal for promotion. Check out Marvel’s Infinity War reimagining of the Brady Bunch theme  filmed for The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon.

Marvel have never been afraid to take risks in their marketing approach, as evidenced by their decision to release the film a week earlier than was first announced. They used the Twitter account of Robert Downey Jr. (Iron Man) to casually make the announcement.

The move was likely made to mitigate the risk of spoilers leaking to the public, but the cool and confident nature of the announcement was well-received by fans.

They Are Assembling Infinite Star Power

Marvel have woven an intricate web with their Cinematic Universe, using the powerful marketing potential of built-in storytelling – they understand that a film itself can be a form of advertising.

Since Iron Man was released in 2008, cross-promotion has featured heavily in MCU films – the notion of The Avengers is first sowed in Iron Man, while Iron Man 2 features a reference to Black Panther’s Wakanda setting, and so on.

Infinity War feels like the culmination of years of work in this regard, with most of the constituent parts of the MCU featured. It’s no wonder the film is proving so popular, with fans of the individual franchises getting to see their favourite characters fighting alongside other heroes of the MCU.

The windfall doesn’t stop here though – a sequel to Infinity War was filmed simultaneously and is due for release on May 3 next year.

They Understand Their Audience

Without spoiling Infinity War for those who haven’t seen it, Marvel and Disney sold audiences more than a few lies in the film trailer. They understood that fans would pore over every frame of the trailer with a fine-toothed comb, sparking frenzied online discussion. To generate fan hypotheses, Marvel and Disney raised false flags by filming scenes for the trailer that do not appear in the film. If box office numbers and online response are any guide, they were forgiven and their risk was justified.

Marvel and Disney launched a charity campaign entitled Marvel: The Universe Unites in February of this year, achieving promotional success in addition to donating cash to children’s charities. Part of their initiative was Hero Acts, where Infinity War stars took creative photos and video alongside customised toys for social media sharing. Once a collective 1 million Twitter likes was achieved, Marvel donated $250,000 to the Starlight Children’s Foundation.

Initiatives such as these can deliver significant cash to charities in addition to improved social media reach and positive media attention.

Start a Social Campaign with Studio Culture

Marvel evidently know how to use their significant financial clout wisely, and we’ve only mentioned a few of the promotional strategies they used to fuel their monster hit.

When it comes to social media, you can carry a fantastic idea a long way with a small budget. To discuss social media marketing with our experienced team, give us a call today on 1300 200 113 or email [email protected].

David is Studio Culture’s Head of Digital Marketing.

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