How marketing brought Blade Runner 2049 out of retirement after 35 years


By John McCarthy | Media editor

October 9, 2017 | 11 min read

Warner Bros (and Sony Pictures in the UK) did a lot to ensure the $350m development of Blade Runner 2049 – the sequel to coveted Ridley Scott sci-fi movie Blade Runner – launched a new franchise capable of partaking in financial fisticuffs with Disney's Star Wars.

While the original movie nailed dystopian aesthetic with practical effects on a scale that is rarely emulated today, it most pertinently was a fully imagined, world, saturated with advertising.

Of course, many of the brands integrated with the original never lasted the test of time, bringing forth rumours of a Blade Rumour curse. Atari's marketshare has diminished in the years since although it makes a reappearance, Koss Corporation shortly went bust after release, RCA Corp and Bell Telephone are no more, and Pan Am is kaput. Coca-Cola continues to reign supreme and returns to the big screen with Atari, Sony, Johnnie Walker.

Blade Runner

Some Blade Runner 2049 marketing executions

Thus, it was only wise that brands would play a sizable part in the marketing of its return to the big screen three decades on.

Below are some of the more interesting marketing activations around the return, which to date, has had a lackluster opening weekend but could fair better on the back of a largely positive critical reception.

Johnnie Walker

Johnnie Walker, has taken a leaf out of Old Forester's playbook with Kingsman, with the launch of a new futuristic brew called Black Label, developed in collaboration with visionary Blade Runner 2049 director Denis Villeneuve and Johnnie Walker master blender Jim Beveridge.

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Further to this, a digital hub shows how to mix future cocktails name after characters from the movie. On the experiential side, there was a Johnnie Walker activation at ComicCon that saw Blade Runners chasing replicants in VR.


Classic gaming brand Atari featured in the original movie – back then it was an industry leader. Now from a much more modest base as a smaller publisher and nostalgia brand in the midst of a revival, Atari features in the movie again.

Furthermore it released a line of futuristic speaker hats tying into the movie launch.


Blade Runner wanted to capture the attention of the millennial and chose to do it in its natural habitat. Many Snap users are probably of an age where they are learning about the original movie for the first time during this campaign.

Short movies There were a handful of shorts and trailers designed to fill viewers in on the extensive world of the movie – and tell how things have changed in the 35 years since the original. The first prequel is 'Blade Runner 2022: Lights Out', an anime from Cowboy Bebop director Shinichirô Watanabe. It runs at 15 minutes long.

The second is, Nowhere to Run, created by agency 3AM, directed by Luke Scott (Meet Walter) and produced by RSA Films, stars Dave Bautista. It runs at a substantial six minutes.

And the third video showcases the pantomime villain of the piece, Jared Leto's Niander Wallace. He got his own six minutes to shine in a prequel called 2036: Nexus Dawn. He forces a repeal of the act banning replicates by showing how they are fully compliant with his demands.

Social Media There was been a joint push to generate buzz on social media, utilising the film's stunning cinematography with gifs and video.

And there has been gorgeous unofficial artwork.

Further to this, fans of the movie could insert their likeness into the official poster.

The movie is in theatres globally now.


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