Deadpool with gun

The Deadpool Guide To Marketing Like A Superhero

Des Nnochiri Digital Marketing 2 Comments

It’s only a few weeks till the release of Deadpool – and the lead-up to the film continues to draw us in with a promotional campaign that’s as intelligent and memorable as it’s crass and funny.

For the team marketing the movie, it’s been a notable success, with huge amounts of buzz generated by advertising that’s been unconventional to say the least. Here’s a look at what we can learn from all this.

Umm… Deadpool?

One from the Marvel Comics stable, Deadpool the movie returns the character to his roots as Wade Wilson (actor Ryan Reynolds), a wise-cracking mercenary (dubbed “The Merc with the Mouth”) offered a reprieve from death by fatal illness when he undergoes an experimental procedure. The operation gives him regenerative healing powers, like ‘The Wolverine’, from ‘X-Men’ (you know – Hugh Jackman).

Actually, Deadpool appeared in a much-diluted form in the fiasco that was X-Men Origins: Wolverine, again played by Ryan Reynolds. A fact that Reynolds occasionally refers to in the quirkily brilliant promotional campaign surrounding his upcoming film.

So what exactly is it that’s made the ‘Deadpool’ marketing so good? Well…

It’s Irreverent and Funny

Anarchic humour was written into the DNA of the Deadpool comics from the start. And it’s carried over into the film’s advertising.

Equal parts witty and profane, Deadpool‘s jokes and visual antics pull in sexual and pop culture references, madness, and puns. All delivered in the superhero character’s unique style.

Now, humour doesn’t work for everyone. It’s a subjective medium, with context, location, personal and cultural preferences making it very hit-and-miss.

But if you’re going to use humour in your marketing, you could do worse than following Deadpool‘s example.

It doesn’t have to be risqué, just fully in keeping with the “character” of whatever it is you’re selling.

4th Wall? What 4th Wall?

The Deadpool comics are notable as one of the few mainstream titles where the lead character breaks off from the action to address the reader directly.

Trailers for the movie confirm that this will also happen on-screen. And it’s reflected in the advertising.

It’s clever marketing, which tips a respectful nod to the viewer/buyer. The buyer knows that you’re trying to sell them something. You as the marketer know you’re trying to sell the buyer something. So why not let them in on the joke?

It’s Responsive

Clearly, the Deadpool marketing team are keeping a finger on the pulse of public opinion: gauging audience reaction to the promo that’s just gone, and tweaking, giving more of the same, or shaking up the next one in response.

This level of flexibility is one to which the best marketing campaigns should aspire.

It Tweaks Conventions

deadpool valentines advertising

(Image source:

Last week, Deadpool reached out to tug the heart-strings of all lovers out there with a warm and fuzzy Valentine’s Day spread depicting the forthcoming movie as a tender love story.

Fans of the franchise will know that the relationship between Wade Wilson and Vanessa Carlysle, a.k.a. Copycat (who’s played by Morena Baccarin) is anything, but.

Still, it’s an effective use of the imagery (sticks in the mind, doesn’t it?). And a valid tweak, on a revered tradition.

It Uses Emoji

emoji banner advertising Deadpool. Skull, poo, 'L'

(Image source:

Love them or loathe them, those funny little critters are out there. And people misuse them, a lot.

In a series of billboards released last week, Deadpool used emoji to poke not-so-gentle fun at all of us who prefer bug-eyed smileys and amiable skulls to the written word.

A case of speaking to a demographic or generation in the language they understand.

It’s Relentless

And those adverts, billboards, and TV spots just keep coming.

Since it hit top gear, the Deadpool campaign has been in our faces, in our minds, and possibly even our hearts. Non-stop.

That’s “awareness creation” of the highest order.

It Delivers On Its Promise?

To be determined, when the film opens on February 12th.

Aside from supervillains, the biggest challenge Deadpool will have to face is that, given all the clever hype, the film itself doesn’t live up to it: cinemagoers stay away in droves, and the movie tanks spectacularly at the box office.

But if (and as a die-hard fan of comic book adaptations generally, I hope) the movie’s as good as its marketing, expect Deadpool to rake in tens or even hundreds of millions for its various stakeholders (which is what effective marketing is all about).

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Des Nnochiri

Des Nnochiri has a Master's Degree (MEng) in Civil Engineering with Architecture, and spent several years at the Architectural Association, in London. He views technology with a designer's eye, and is very keen on software and solutions which put a new wrinkle on established ideas and practices. He now writes for markITwrite across the full spectrum of corporate tech and design. In previous lives, he has served as a Web designer, and an IT consultant to The Learning Paper, a UK-based charity extending educational resources to underprivileged youngsters in West Africa. A film buff and crime fiction afficionado, Des moonlights as a novelist and screenwriter. His short thriller, "Trick" was filmed in 2011 by Shooting Incident Productions, who do location work on "Emmerdale".

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