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Batman V Superman V WB Marketing: Why DC Movies Can't Win

By Joe Starr | Think Pieces | December 9, 2015 | Comments ()

By Joe Starr | Think Pieces | December 9, 2015 |


dc marketing cover.jpg

HEY!

Did ya’ll see that new Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice trailer?! You didn’t? Why do you frequent pop culture sites? YOU MAKE NO SENSE.

If you’ve missed it, here you go!

There’s a lot of love and a lot to ‘wha?’ in this thing. That chat between Clark and Bruce is pitch perfect and sold the whole movie for me, which is a shame because the trailer then shows us the whole movie. It’s sort of a weird move.

Actually, someone cut a much better spoiler free trailer that looks rad.

Right? So much better.

But this trailer isn’t the problem. If WB/DC wants any real momentum, their entire marketing approach has to change.

WB/DC is in a tough spot: their branding was done for them when Sam Jackson told RDJ he wanted to talk to him about the Avengers. That brand is ‘yeah, fucking try and top.’ That’s not a good brand to have. It’s not a fight you can win.

In fact, it makes WB/DC’s end product irrelevant. Man of Steel wasn’t the disaster some would like to insist it was. It’s just as good as a good chunk of the Marvel movies, but the problem is that DC movies aren’t going to be compared in a meaningful way to other films: they’ll be compared to the Marvel Brand as a single entity. And they’ll lose.

Marvel has positioned itself with fans as the coolest kid on the block. This kid has cool shades and he skateboards and he’s totally the dopest. He’s totally down and rad and totes is on tumblr. DC, meanwhile, is still being presented by Warner Bros traditional marketing strategies.

This is Marvel marketing:

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This is DC marketing:

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Marvel has made being into their movies a huge rad party. Tony Stark dances into Hall H to a packed house, and they throw a big fan event to introduce phases 4-26. It’s fun to love Marvel, and you know what? Marvel fucking loves you. With that level of loyalty, the movies don’t have to be great (they’re all fine, ok? start typing a different comment), because screw it, THE PARTY NEVER STOPS. They don’t even have to take promotion seriously anymore.

That…That is a trailer released by a cocky fucking company, you guys.

To contrast, you know how DC announced their slate of films? A stockholder’s conference call. Do you remember that DC was the first company to announce a female protagonist solo movie (Wonder Woman) and a black character’s solo movie (Cyborg)? Of course you don’t. Because a few weeks later, Marvel threw a big party in Hollywood and had a Captain Marvel party. Black Panther showed up and hugged Steve Rogers! DC’s Hall H show was shoe horned in with other fan frenzied franchises like Pan and Man From UNCLE. Fucking PAN!

WB/DC needs to rebrand from the ground up. I’d actually give their marketing department the same advice I’d give their Clark Kent: lighten up and have some fucking fun. Here’s my pitch: Imagine a big event for the fans at an IMAX theatre. Affleck is gonna be there! Guy…that plays Superman that I’d probably be down to do stuff with but who’s name I can’t remember and felt like it would be funnier to just keep typing this instead of checking was it was oh damn it it’s Cavil, right? Anyway, they’re BOTH GONNA BE THERE. And they’re gonna SHOW YOU THE NEW TRAILER! OH SHIT!

And they livestream the event on Youtube. You know, livestreaming. That thing that WB’s TV wing seems to think is a fad.

It’s a packed house. Affleck takes the stage! But an in-character Amanda Waller informs Batfleck that they have a problem: the Joker has been spotted in the theatre, which I know might be a trigger thing because our Second Bah Gawd Amendment allows us to love the Joker, movies, and assault weapons, but just…Whatever. Go with me. She confirms that the target is on the move in the theatre and that her unit is en route. Then, the screen lights up, and onscreen, the characters of Suicide Squad check in. And we show some surprise Suicide Squad footage. Jared Leto does a cackle over the house PA. Fans cheer. We’re on to the trailer for Batman V Superman. But also a version that doesn’t give away the whole movie, because now DC is a cool confident brand that doesn’t feel like it has to plead for you to like it.

Is it cheesy? Christ yes. It reminds me of a live Transformers show I saw at the zoo when I was a kid where a guy in a Grimlock suit and some summerstock actor dressed as Spike Witwicky had the crowd clap to help defeat Laserbeak. But it’s fun. It’s memorable.

Hell, have Lex Luthor give a keynote speech at E3. Just do something. Be bold. Until WB/DC can stop their brand from being defined by the competition, it won’t matter if their next five movies are incredible or hot garbage.

They’re already ‘not Marvel.’ And that’s not good.


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