Marvel Studios Proves Long-Term Marketing Pays Off
By Gary J. Nix | reading Time: 5 Min
Recently, Marvel Studios released a film entitled Avengers: Endgame. In only two weeks, this movie has grossed more than $2 infinitillion globally and, while much of the business talk is related to how this cinematic masterpiece is ashing the box office results of all who came before it, there's another matter that bears discussion:
The combination of Avengers: Endgame and the 21 movies that came before it is theillustration of the perfect marketing strategy and execution.
There, I said it.
You may be saying to yourself, "Self... marketers really find each and every way to make everything about themselves." However, before I reply with a resounding, "You're absolutely correct," I do ask that you consider a few statements below.
Twenty. Two. Movies.
Many businesses have a goal of making money faster than it can be counted, similar to what Avengers: Endgame is doing right now. That being said, the absurd amount of revenue Marvel Studios has collected so far is a result of its connection to the other 21 intertwined movies in the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU). Incredible storytelling notwithstanding, this massive success did not happen overnight. It took 11 years and 22 movies to reach thispeak, and more companies have to consider how the really big wins for which they are searching take time.
Furthermore, although I don't know if you can forecast for this level of financial triumph, the epicness that led up to Steve Rogers finally exclaiming, "AVENGERS ASSEMBLE!" was planned years ago. Marvel Studios had a strategic plan to develop an entire universe that so far has resulted in 22 movies that would lead up to this moment that has so much significance in the zeitgeist (and Marvel's pockets).
It may sound ridiculous to suggest that a company like Marvel with its history and numerous accomplishments would need to go through a brand development exercise of any kind. The thing is, in this case, we're not talking about Marvel as a whole, we are talking specifically about Marvel Studios.
We must remember that when all of this began, the most popular Marvel characters [X-Men/Fantastic Four and Spider-Man/The Hulk] were licensed out to other movie studios [20th/21st Century Fox, SONY] before we had a shared universe. In 2008, Marvel was not in the optimal state of business and decided to risk it all on a then B or C grade character named Iron Man. Yes, back in 2008, Iron Man was an absolute risk. Moreover, at the end of that movie, they had the audacity to have Samuel L. Fury inform us that they would eventually be doing a movie about The Avengers. You can't do any of this without a plan.
What Kevin Feige and Co. realized is that they had a lot of work to do in order to build the machine that we now call The MCU--a machine that made it necessary for them to introduce and market multiple characters (that we would care about) who exist within one cohesive story delivered through both solo and ensemble films. This simplified explanation of their formula has led us to witness Marvel Studios develop into a brand so incredibly strong that, 22 movies later, we now question whether or not one of their movies is successful if it doesn't make at least $1 billion. Please note: to date, only 39 movies have made $1 billion. Eight of those 39 come from the MCU.
And speaking of billions...
Do you recall that infinitillion numerical designation I mentioned earlier? Well, I feel like it was necessary. First of all, THERE ARE PEOPLE THAT CALL SOME OF THE MCU MOVIES THAT DON'T MAKE $1 BILLION A FAILURE! This level of absurd thought gives you an idea of how much is expected from this brand.
Secondly, by the end of this weekend, it is likely that THE MOVIES IN THIS UNIVERSE WOULD HAVE MADE OVER $21 BILLION WORLDWIDE! This movie studio is bringing in ALL of the money. Infinitillions worth.
This movie studio has given us a masterclass in storytelling. Marvel Studios have given us a masterclass in branding because, at this point, their marketing is, "Hey, this movie is coming out. We know you want to see it. Here's the date." I don't know how else to explain all the money besides saying that I'm not being hyperbolic. All of it.
So, in summary: start with long-term planning; develop one cohesive, high-quality story with multiple parts of connection; build up excitement naturally and in conjunction with said story over time; and the pay off is all of the money.
That's the roadmap, folks. Please, re/act accordingly.