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How Black Panther’s marketing made it a pop-culture phenomenon

26-February-2018
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How Black Panther’s marketing made it a pop-culture phenomenon

Shaking up the worn out superhero movie formula, Ryan Coogler's universally-acclaimed superhero flick, Black Panther, has reportedly grossed over $548 million worldwide, making it the highest-grossing film of 2018. Given its savvy marketing game, it's not too surprising to note how it's gone beyond conventional movie marketing and turned to become a pop-culture phenomenon.

Positioning, passion and promotional genius

Industry experts believe that the movie's far-reaching promotional tactics and positioning are to be lauded. "Even if movies are not your favourite, Black Panther has extended itself into music as well by having Grammy-winner Kendrick Lamar inspire and make the movie's soundtrack. The release of the soundtrack last week garnered its own buzz and people had a renewed excitement to discuss the movie a week before its official release," points out Saurabh Uboweja, International Brand Expert and CEO, Brands of Desire.

Nishant Radia, CMO and co-founder Vidooly, also seconds that. "Betting on more of an organic promotion versus paid for, Black Panther has garnered huge collections in India," he says. Uboweja also attributes the movie's positioning as powerful. "The real reason behind Black Panther's success has been its positioning and content that backs it so convincingly. It has to be the first Black superhero film that charms an untapped marginalized market within the general Black market, accentuating emotions such as black pride and black power. It is liberating and empowering for the black market which was waiting for their superman," he points out.

The movie's release in February, which is the Black History Month in United States, also comes across as a well-played move.

According to N Chandramouli, CEO, TRA, the movie boasts of all the qualitative aspects of Disney mixed with all the fun and adventure of Marvel. "The pre-sales of movie tickets added a strong push. Never in cinematic history, has there been such an advance ticket sale of a movie. All this has been successful in creating the right curiosity, great product, smart positioning, etc." he opines.

Marvel-lous marketing

A highlight of the "marvel-lous" marketing entails a crowd-funding effort by the team to ensure the Boys & Girls Club of Harlem could all secure seats to what will likely be a lasting role model in the superhero genre. The drive tripled its goal of making up to $10,000 in just four days, reaching $45,000. It was a series of celebrity donations that helped reach the goal.

The movie's "grassroots marketing movement" seems to be its high-point and is unlike other Marvel movies. "Besides doing many things marketing, Disney has also been playing to emotions pretty well as they quietly supported a grassroots movement raising money for kids to see the movie by helping with screenings when it could," says Uboweja. Radia believes that with current similarly volatile political climate, the film seems to have plugged right into it and has struck a chord with the movie-goers.

Chandramouli contends that it is not just mainstream movie marketing but has become a cultural event. "Making the movie into a cultural phenomenon has been a wonderful precept," he shares. "The marketing and branding is doing so well that you might see action figures come out of it which will mostly be product types," he opines when we ask him how high it could fly.

Sparking immediate chatter and palpable excitement while stirring a passion in audiences with the attachment of a Disney movie to a powerful social movement, the movie has been fanning the flames of a phenomenon. The record-shattering box-office numbers are a testament to this.

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