As the credits rolled on Black Panther Saturday night, I turned to my friend and said, “There’s really no way to create a trailer for this movie, is there?” He agreed. The trailers we had seen in the prior months were lackluster and silly featuring random action scenes and shots of downtown Wakanda.
But if you watch the film, you’ll quickly realize there’s a reason for that. Zero fluff exists in the rockin’ superhero film Black Panther. From start to finish, it’s a polished film that leaves literally no plot holes.
But what does this mean for the future of superhero marketing? What could other projects learn from this mysterious door-buster of a movie?
1. How Did Black Panther Smash Opening Night With Such Crummy Trailers?
While Black Panther isn’t the first Marvel film to feature a black man as the lead (we’re looking at you, Blade), it’s the first MCU film with a black lead and a black director. The film was putting notches in its spear handle long before any trailer hit the screen.
But the Black Panther writers, producers, and director had a challenge before them yet. They had to hit the mark or their movie would go down in infamy. The film needed an airtight script while maintaining the excitement of the superhero genre.
This meant a major headache for marketers as well. How do you build a marketing plan that gives nothing away when almost every moment of a film will give away something about the plot?
You focus on the set.
Wakanda became the buzzword during the Holiday season. So much so, that some even criticised people for caring more about the fictional Wakanda than actual African countries that need real aid.
While the Marvel version of Themyscira is central to the plot of Black Panther, there is nothing you could glean about the plot from its existence.
Since introducing otherworldly characters such as the Guardians of the Galaxy and Thor into the mix, world-building has been a staple of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. But it’s never the central aspect of a film’s marketing.
The trailers became the smallest part of Black Panther’s marketing.
A Grassroots Campaign
Positioning and timing is everything in the film world. If you release your film in the wrong month, you’re screwed. And traditionally, the worst movies come out in February.
But for a film about and by people of color, there is no better month than February, at least in the United States. It’s Black History Month.
And Black Panther is making history.
Create something for people and people will carry you over the finish line. That’s exactly what’s happening with this movie.
SuCh Charles’ movement in Denver is a great example of this. A singer-songwriter who, when she saw that Black Panther was to hit theaters in February, began to organize a small movement of people to support the film in Denver. If her people were represented well in a film, it was important to support that film.
At a time when movements like Black Lives Matter hit a controversial note, it’s important that positive and celebratory images of people of color receive a solid backing. And hundreds of groups across the country latched onto that idea, packing out theaters on opening night.
Doesn’t Come Without Criticism
The fact that a bunch of executives at Marvel Studios will make bank on the black community’s enthusiasm isn’t lost on some. People like Diamond Teeth Boy blasted on Twitter about Marvel’s marketing tactics.
And while, yes, this is true, films like Black Panther would not exist without the deep pockets of Disney and Marvel. And the chance for actors of color (there are only two white actors in the whole film) to get the exposure of a blockbuster film is huge.
2. What Marketers Can Learn from Black Panter’s Marketing Success
Black Panther is slated to be one of the most successful superhero films to date. And if you’re looking for blog ideas, right now Black Panther is a hot topic.
But what can we learn from this incredible success?
Create Excellent Content First and Foremost
Neil Patel says “write blogs for people, not search engines.” And he’s absolutely right.
While SEO is extremely important, it shouldn’t be your first consideration when creating content for your blog or your website. Find out what people want to see first.
Of course, Marvel spent billions over the last ten years figuring out just that. If you look at the average critical score of each film, Marvel is obviously getting better at giving audiences what they want.
Do your research and know thy audience. If you don’t know where to start, begin by thinking of what you would want to read.
If you’re curious about something, it’s likely someone else is as well.
Plug Into Current Trends
Marvel is shameless about riding current political waves. And while you should be careful how you follow trends, look at the world around you.
Use the tools at your disposal. Popular forums like Reddit and Facebook are the perfect places to start. There is literally a Reddit for anything you could want to know about and Facebook tracks its own trends openly.
As long as you balance perspectives, don’t be afraid of controversial topics. If your content is excellent and well researched, you’ll be able to defend it.
Go to Wakanda
If you haven’t been to Wakanda yet, it’s time to get out there and see what the hype is all about. This is probably the best superhero film of all time.
And if you need a model marketing platform, Marvel’s handling of Black Panther takes the cake. Not only did they plug into a current movement, they created something worth seeing over and over again. And the numbers already back that up.
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