The Wonder Woman movie is the latest attempt from Warner Bros to inject some life into (or resuscitate) a floundering theatrical execution of its DC Comics properties in the hopes that it will rival that of Disney's Marvel Cinematic Universe. The studio has been repeatedly accused of failing to market the movie.
Despite boasting a production budget in excess of $120m, there were concerns that the studio wasn't throwing its full marketing might behind the movie, analysis did find that that previous movies in the series, Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice and Suicide Squad were more visibly serviced in the merchandising, partnership and trailer fronts in the month before launch.
A prevailing theory was that the studio held fire until Marvel’s Guardian’s of the Galaxy: Vol 2 was but a distant memory, it is unwise to compete against Baby Groot for consumer retention.
With this movie, Warner Bros had a chance to transcend the regurgitation of a beloved Batman or Superman comic tale. With filmmaker Patty Jenkins on board, it empowered a female icon in a standalone movie, something Marvel never did despite being 15 movies deep into its franchise. A low budget Black Widow or Scarlet Witch movie could have been released by Marvel (even at a loss) without breaking a sweat, instead it has lost ground to DC which has seized the day.
Here's how Warner Bros pushed the movie.
Social was a cornerstone of the campaign, Warner Bros was one of the first studios to buy into Facebook’s camera mask, with an augmented tiara. Lead actress Gal Gadot shared it on her Facebook account which has a substantial 8.5m Likes.
Experience WONDER when you try the new #WonderWoman Facebook Camera Mask! To get the mask, update your Facebook app and then swipe right to open the camera. Can’t wait to check out your incredible videos!
Posted by Gal Gadot on Tuesday, 28 March 2017
Filters and masks enabled users to make their mark on the Wonder Woman brand, allowing them to be a part of it. Snapchat was also incorporated in the campaign, allowing the studio access to that hallowed that young demographic.
Days before launch, five exclusive Snapchat filters went live, adopting all the props from the movie. The activity also culminated in a 16 bit game being released only on Snapchat.
— #WonderWoman (@WonderWomanFilm) May 31, 2017
On Twitter, Gadot offered up behind-the-scenes access to her 900k followers. Ever wondered how Wonder Woman's boots were made? That was there. Her rigorous beauty regime, how she put out her back on the press tour? It was there for invested parties turning the production process into a daily conversation.
Wonder Woman boot making #flashback#wonderwomanpic.twitter.com/992RIz4EHZ — Gal Gadot (@GalGadot) May 12, 2017
Studios often use their star power to generate buzz on social media, Fox's Hugh Jackman and Ryan Reynolds mastered this for the release of Logan and Deadpool respectively. Gadot also served as a major component of the marketing.
Away from social and towards TV, ads have ran thick and fast in the last seven days. Arguably the most engaging creative tied in with the CW Network's Supergirl - a WB channel that produces most of DC's serialised dramas much of which occupies the 'Arrowverse'.
This collaboration paid homage to DC's top leading ladies of the present and the past. The crossover (CW also did one for the Lego Batman movie) featured Melissa Benoist and Chyler Leigh from Supergirl, Lynda Carter formerly Wonder Woman and Teri Hatcher formerly Lois Lane, all riffing off to ‘These Boots are Made for Walking’.
So was the movie poorly marketed, or was it the case that DC realised that it had, in the Rotten Tomatoes parlance, a fresh movie with a sizeable audience waiting to see it?
Perhaps following Wonder Woman's small but substantial role in the Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice, and her appearance in the promotions for next year's Justice League, restraint was exercised.
Notably there were far fewer brand partnerships than was exhibited by earlier entries in the DCU - fans are unlikely to be too upset by that. Did Batman Vs Superman: Dawn of Justice's Jeep, Dodge, General Mills and Turkish Airlines placements actually improve the viewer experience?
The most notable of Wonder Woman partners include the usual Mattel and Lego merch deal, a tie in with Dr Pepper, fashion partnerships, Cold Stone Creamery products, a Walgreens Cosmetics line, a Nascar sponsorship and a controversial tie in with weightloss protein bar firm ThinkThin that went down just as well as you could imagine.
On the advertising, Gadot took front and centre, even co-star Chris Pine's WWI pilot took a back seat in this material. This at least showed the studio wasn't going to compromise the strength of its lead or pander to audiences with a distracting insertion of Pine.
A post shared by Wonder Woman (@wonderwomanfilm) on
One hiccup was Lebanon's banning of the movie - likely linked to Gadot's Israeli heritage. That is unlikely to shake up the global box office too much.
It would be remiss not to mention some unofficial campaigns and dialogues the movie has started by championing woman, Scorch Motion marked the most powerful and inspirational female figureheads of today alongside the release of the movie.
Google also got involved with the property, launching a coding initiative to get young women interested in the computer sciences.
Pine and Gadot pitched in during International Women's Day, a loud voice in an increasingly more celebrated conversation. This no doubt helped solidify the movie's role as an authentic contributor to the feminism conversation, and will likely help get people into theaters (not just female only showings).
Lasso of truth time. Vanity Fair reports that the Warner Bros put more money into marketing Wonder Woman than it did Suicide Squad, $3m on ads against $2.64m respectively (figure from start of campaign to five weeks until launch).
Forbes has described the marketing as a 'Leave Them Wanting More' campaign - a wise move after Batman Vs Superman: Dawn of Justice was accused of spoiling its own plot in an official trailer.
No doubt some content ran under the radar of viewers, at the very least, obnoxious sponsored content and partnerships was kept to a minimum.
Data from ad tech firm Taykey outlines that the movie has attracted a remarkably positive pre-release buzz on social media, and it can take that sentiment to the bank. Correct strides have clearly been made.
Time will tell if commercial success follows critical success in what is a positive step for the industry.