The Avengers Marketing Campaign: Why?

avengersA few years ago I swore off watching movie trailers for movies I already knew I will see in the theater, as too many of them revealed scenes from the final third of the movie–essentially, they spoil their own movie.

However, I am human, and I get really excited about certain movies. So I haven’t been able to stop myself from watching the three main trailers for Avengers: Age of Ultron. I’m not alone–those three trailers have accumulated over 140 million views on YouTube.

It’s clear that people are excited about seeing the sequel to one of the biggest movies ever. So why has the marketing campaign been so relentless?

Over the last few months, at least once a week Marvel has released a new clip, TV spot, or trailer for the Avengers. It seems like they’re hellbent on showing us the entire movie before it even reaches theaters.

Just today I saw a post on Facebook containing a clip of a big fight scene in the movie. Providing a quick glimpse of a big scene–a scene that probably costs tens of millions to film–is one thing. It’s enough to give the fans a taste. But to release the entire scene?

This isn’t about me–yes, I watched the trailers, but I’ve skipped all the other clips. And yes, eager fans have the choice not to watch these clips. But why release them in the first place? Who are they trying to convince to see this movie who hasn’t already been convinced (or won’t be convinced by everyone else who sees the movie on opening weekend)?

I’m truly baffled by this approach. Sure, for some movies that don’t have an established fanbase, the marketing team might want to release a few juicy clips to create new fans. But Age of Ultron is a sequel to a movie that made 1.5 billion dollars worldwide. It’s a known commodity.

I wish the marketing teams behind these huge movies would let audiences be surprised by these movies. I may have the willpower to not watch the big fight scene clip released today, but I don’t even want to know that scene exists until I see the movie. Just don’t even mention it. Let me be surprised and delighted by what unravels on the big screen.

What’s your take on Marvel’s marketing strategy? Is there a reason they’ve already released so much footage of the Avengers: Age of Ultron?

14 thoughts on “The Avengers Marketing Campaign: Why?”

  1. I saw The Matrix without seeing more than about 5 seconds of the trailer, and thought it was great. Since then, I’ve made a concerted effort not to watch trailers of anything I remotely might consider watching in the future. I knew Loki was in Avengers 1, but that was it.

    I don’t even like the picture you put on this post (and so squinted my eyes as the page loaded so I wouldn’t see any details of any possible pictures, and then covered it with my hand while I read the rest of the page).

    The problem is, not everyone _is_ convinced that they will see it in the cinema, and so they blitz it so people will come and watch.

    I’ve seen a few good trailers in the past. The best marketing I saw was for the game “The Stanley Parable”. You can find it here:
    It’s short, but play the demo first (and I’d avoid the trailers and screenshots if you can help it). The demo ruins _absolutely nothing_ about the final game.

    Go play it. Then play the full game (again, it’s pretty short). Then play it again.

    • RodeoClown: I’m impressed by your willpower! I’m going to try to do that with the next Star Wars trailer (i.e., not watch it), but we’ll see…the Force is not strong in this one.

      Thanks for sharing the Stanley Parable. I watched the trailer and read a review, and wow…such a brilliant idea! I might have to give it a try (it would be the first game I buy on Steam).

      • I’ve seen (literally) three images from the new Star Wars teaser trailer: The round robot, the lightsaber, and a pilot’s head in a helmet. And all three were outside my control 🙁

        Yeah, the Stanley Parable is awesome. I’m currently working on an achievement for it where you can’t run the game for 5 years 😀

  2. Kids these days… *gets on old lady pants* Back in my day, we would just…. Play a video game. But my kids are OBSESSED with watching YouTube videos of people playing the game they just got…. INSTEAD OF PLAYING IT THEMSELVES. Like, they have to have it, but they want to have every bit laid out in front of them and understood. And it’s not just my kids, there was even commentary on this on South Park featuring YouTube superstar pewdepie (or whatever his name is) . I seriously think it’s some kind of new media thing, and I think it parallels the Avengers thing perfectly. I don’t think those fight scene and clips are for *you* (or us, our generation) at all. It’s for the kids who are consuming media in this way that makes no sense to me, with commentary and spoilers and seeing it all played out before they see it, and somehow that enhances their experience of the thing. So I think Marvel is capitalizing on that, not just to get people in the sears for the movies, but to sell March… All the toys and licensed products… My son was asking (begging) me to buy him a bag of chips at the checkout line yesterday because they had Captain America on them. That was the most relevant the g about the chips, in his opinion. So those fight scene videos feed that yeah? Get the new media kids all hyped up on Avengers?

    • Angie: That’s a very interesting theory. I’m fascinated by the whole idea of people watching others play games (live or recorded). I do it a little bit (I watch Tabletop, though it’s a polished, edited show, not a live cut). I think it’s somewhat affirming to watch someone else play something you love or something you want to learn (or learn to be better at).

      The parallel to the Avenger’s marketing strategy might work on kids…maybe that’s it.

      • Sorry for all my typos! Got on a rant and didn’t realize how bad my thumb typing was 🙂 (seats & merch were what I was trying to say). Anyhow, I think that there is some amount of enhanced anticipation on kids, like knowing the “big fight scene they saw on YouTube” is coming up makes the movie that much more thrilling, because they’ve had time to digest it, and now get to experience it on the big screen and take it all in, while understanding what’s happening, instead of having it flash by. I *think* that’s part of what the video game videos is about for my kids, is understanding and digesting what is happening in the game so they can have a deeper appreciation of it, becasue they say they like a game better when they’ve watched a play through or whatever than when they are just playing it and don’t know what to do or don’t understand it. So all the teasers and trailers and clips are like that, a preview cushion to make the movie more exciting for these kids who are consuming media backwards from the way we did (and also to sell stuff! Allegedly a market research study somewhere showed that a kid only needed to ask their parent for something ~7 times before the parent would give in. Imagine how much the trailers & teaser & clips & scenes help with that if it’s true?) 🙂

        • Angie: Ah, that makes sense about having the time to digest something big that hasn’t happened yet. That’s really interesting about the “7 times” rule.

  3. Marvel knows exactly what they’re doing. Lots of surprises in the movie to come. The Hulkbuster clip shows a fraction of the whole scene, it goes UP buildings, there’s much more of it to be surprised at. We’ve hardly seen anything about The Vision or the floating city or the final battle in the trailers. Again, Marvel know exactly what they’re doing and have actually held a lot back. What is interesting the ‘what happens’ paradigm spoilers have introduced to society, there are tonnes of people who love being spoiled who still go to see it on opening day. I saw a journalist tweet (can’t find it now) that he was surprised people were asking more about spoilers than asking the journo to ask actors any questions. Speaking as someone who enjoys spoilers I dont think they take away from the shared visceral experience this entertainment encompasses just ask you can’t predict exactly how the social mechanics of a board game will feel even if you play with the same people.

    • Nathan: I think part of what I’m talking about harkens back to my childhood experience of watching movies. I may have seen a short trailer on TV, but for the most part I had no idea about any scene in the movie. Young Jamey wouldn’t have known that Vision is in the movie or that Hulk fights Iron Man–all of that would have been fresh and new when I saw the movie instead of being something I know is happening. When I watch movies now, I can’t help but think, “Well, the scene I saw in the commercial hasn’t happened yet–when is it going to happen? How does it fit in?” Some people might enjoy that, but I don’t.

      The point of this post is more about their marketing campaign. Did Marvel need to reveal any part of the Hulk vs. Iron Man to get people to come see their movie? Is the reveal of Vision the thing that will push people over the edge to buy a ticket? I doubt it.

  4. Despite what you may believe, not everyone knows about the film.

    This wasn’t even on my radar – your blogpost was a good advert for me – and after reading this post, I looked at the only 2 clips I could find on youtube. The fight scene is 1:26 and looks like an extract. The other scene is slightly shorter. Neither reveals much – I’m sure that there’s more plot going on elsewhere in the film.

    I don’t know if I’ll go to see it, but by making you talk about it, and getting me to check out these clips, they’ve certainly increased the chance that I will.


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