As one of the biggest movie franchises in history, the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) is a marketing MONSTER. Over 22 films released in just over 10 years, the MCU has no intention of slowing down, and with each passing film release, we see more brands partner up to get in on the action.
“As our fan universe expands with new characters and stories, so has our audience,” said Mindy Hamilton, SVP of Partnership Marketing at the Walt Disney Company. For any brand aspiring to penetrate into a new audience segment, partnering with Marvel is a dream. This year’s release of Avengers: Endgame saw the largest promotional campaign of the franchise, having spent over $200 million across their global marketing efforts.
Take Audi, for example; Tony Stark, aka Iron Man, is always driving the latest and greatest Audi. By making Tony Stark, an eccentric tech genius billionaire, drive the latest Audi e-tron electric car, Audi associates the image of that car with Iron Man. People see this association and connect the car with speed and power, just like Iron Man.
This is similar to the way that Apple made its personal computers so commonplace – by featuring them in TV shows and movies. In fact, Apple has a direct deal with “Saturday Night Live” to promote their products; we’ve even seen MacOS and iOS be used as the platform for a special episode of Modern Family. The bottom line? By featuring products as props in pop culture, we produce the illusion of the products fitting in an ideal, ‘picture-esque’ life, making them relatable and desirable.
“The most important thing is the credible, authentic and organic integration of the brand and its products into the movies’ storytelling”, says Kai Mensing, Audi’s Product Placement International Division head.
Considering a more recent product placement, eagle-eyed Game of Thrones fans noticed a scene in the final season featuring a Starbucks coffee cup left in front of Emilia Clarke, aka Daenerys Targaryen. This spurred a relentless chain of reactions on social media. HBO is an ‘Ad-Free’ subscription service, which does not accept pay-for-product placement but if it was intentional and planned, this cameo superstar cup would have cost Starbucks $250,000 as per Hollywood Branded.
The benefits of investing in in-film branding go well beyond on-screen exposure. Brands get the opportunity to capitalize on film franchise association to promote themselves. The biggest advantage is unlike other conventional campaigns, these features never go “Off Air” and viewers don’t get a ‘Skip this Ad’ option. Each time the movie/episode is seen by a viewer, your message is delivered all over again. And repeat.