Like a lot of Americans, I sat down this last Sunday and watched the Super Bowl. Like a lot of Americans, I enjoyed a lot of the trailers we saw during the commercial breaks for the game. There was a trailer for the new Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles film, featuring some great looks at Bee-Bop and Rocksteady and the Krang. There was a great Jason Bourne trailer, featuring Matt Damon’s return to the series. There was a Deadpool trailer featuring more reasons why I will not be seeing the film. And, of course, there was a Civil War trailer with more hero vs. hero goodness. There was even a Jungle Book trailer that looked pretty decent. All of these were prominent, geek related titles that are coming out later this year. All of them made some part of the geek population somewhat excited.
There was one major franchise missing, however, and quite frankly, I was a little shocked and somewhat disappointed. Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice comes out in just a little over a month. This is the time when we should be seeing a plethora of ads. Instead, we are seeing numerous Marvel ads, and we have almost forgotten that a new DC movie is coming out. Everywhere I look I see memes like this one, from our own Liz Cole:
And social media is obsessed with #TeamCap or #TeamIronMan. Marvel has been hard at work promoting what will be their keystone feature of 2016, and they have really focused in on the Captain America vs. Iron Man angle, and it has been a huge success. Fans are totally on board. If only DC were putting a movie out that featured a battle between their two corner-stone characters, even featuring a title that emphasized said battle. Oh, wait…they are. Why has #TeamSuperman or #TeamBatman not really caught on? Why don’t we see any memes like the one above, but featuring Batman and Superman? Why have the fans not caught on to this angle with DC as much as they have with Marvel?
I think there are a myriad of reasons why, but for me, I think the biggest reason why is because we simply don’t care enough about the DC characters. Think about it. This is the sixth movie to feature Robert Downey, Jr. as Tony Stark/Iron Man, including three solo films and two Avengers films. This is the fifth film to feature Chris Evans as Steve Rogers/Captain America, including two solo films and two Avengers films. We have seen these characters develop through all of those films. We care what happens to them. By comparison, this is the second film to feature Henry Cavill as Clark Kent/Superman and the first film to feature Ben Affleck as Bruce Wayne/Batman. We just don’t know these versions of these characters as well as we know their Marvel counterparts. It is hard for audiences to get as excited about the DC heroes fighting each other and picking sides, since they barely know them. I think this is a big reason why so much of the marketing focusing on the fight between the two titans has fallen flat in a lot of ways. Granted, memes are obviously fan generated, and hashtags are used by fans, but fans aren’t generating the memes or using the hashtags for Batman v Superman.
Maybe, then, DC is playing it smart. They are taking a completely different approach to their marketing and their ad campaign. They are not focusing on the Batman vs. Superman aspect, but more on the ‘dawn of justice” aspect. They are really pushing that this film will be more of a Justice League setup, than a major battle between the two main characters. They are pushing that Wonder Woman and Aqua Man and Flash will all be in this film, in addition to Batman and Superman. They have also began to drop hints about a massive threat coming in at the end, forcing the team to come together (coughs *Darkseid*). That has become the focus of their campaign. Building the DC Universe.
In that same vein, DC was not completely absent from the Super Bowl advertising, although Suicide Squad was nowhere to be seen. They ran a series of ads with their marketing partner, Turkish Airlines, advertising new destinations, Metropolis and Gotham City, with celebrity endorsements from Lex Luthor and Bruce Wayne. If you only watched the big game, you may have missed them, since they ran during the pre- and post game coverage. Interesting move. This matches up with the “interview” and article that was featured in Fortune back in October of last year. DC is doing some sneaky great advertising, giving their world, their universe a more realistic feel, which is right in line with what they have been trying to establish all along.
I don’t know if this is the right way to go. In some ways it feels like their major film for the year is getting lost in all the Marvel, but I also kind of like it. I like the feeling of realism that they are putting together, and I am cautiously optimistic for the film. I’ve simply been disappointed too many times in the past to feel any more optimistic than that. Maybe their advertising strategy will work, and the film will be a bigger success than anyone thought. Maybe it will flop and everyone will forget the film comes out on Easter weekend. If that’s the case, it will be back to the drawing board for the marketing folks.
Here are each of the ads from Super Bowl Sunday:
What do you think of DC’s advertising plan? Are you excited for Batman v Superman? Let me know your thoughts in the comments, or you can send me feedback directly at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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