EXCLUSIVE: It’s been a long time since we’ve seen anything Marvel, and you can blame that squarely on the pandemic.
As the greater hope for a better 2021 occurs with incoming President Joe Biden looking to deliver 100 million vaccines doses in his first 100 days, fanboys and girls finally can calm down, for as of today, the first streaming series starring MCU characters, Disney+’s WandaVision, finally is seeing the light of day.
It’s been 20 months since Disney delivered the biggest-grossing movie ($2.8 billion) and global opening ($1.22B) of all-time with Marvel’s Avengers: Endgame, and 563 days since Sony/Marvel’s Spider-Man: Far From Home hit the big screen. While rival studios are trying to get their heads around marketing both their streaming fare and films, the WandaVision push was designed and implemented by the same theatrical marketing team (led by President Asad Ayaz) at Disney that was behind its MCU blockbuster streak of Avengers pics, Captain Marvel, Black Panther and more. Ayaz’s crew also mounted the Season 1 and 2 marketing of Star Wars: The Mandalorian. It’s an ensemble that has earned great bragging rights: They have the distinction of delivering an industry global studio box office record for Disney in 2019 of $13.2 billion.
The WandaVision campaign was one that was roughly a year and a half in the making. Throughout all its tentacles including outdoor, digital, and TV, an awesome 2.14 billion impressions were yielded.
“In classic Marvel MCU form, the WandaVision rollout was fully triangulated across the Marvel, Disney and the Disney+ ecosystem with a Social Media Universe SMU of 336.86M across Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube — with the Marvel SMU at 107.3M, Disney at 92.3M SMU and emerging Disney+ growing at 9.5M SMU. WandaVision social reach is lightyears ahead of most streaming shows with an SMU at 263K,” Hollywood social media analytics firm RelishMix reports.
Marvel made WandaVision official at San Diego Comic-Con in July 2019 when Elizabeth Olsen (Wanda Maximoff), Paul Bettany (Vision) and Teyonah Parris (Monica Rambeau) took the stage in Hall H to announce the project, written by Captain Marvel scribe Jac Schaeffer.
We wouldn’t see a flicker of WandaVision again until Sept. 20 last year, which was Emmy night. And even though there weren’t many people watching the Emmys (6.1M), the trailer drop for WandaVision resonated far after the telecast with 53M online views in its first 24 hours (18M overall views on YouTube), a record for a streaming-series trailer. If Netflix’s quiet, organic menu campaign for The Queen’s Gambit can yield its most watched limited series with 62M views in 28 days, imagine what the noise created here for WandaVision potentially could yield.
“The clear social media driver for WandaVision awareness and engagement marketing runs across YouTube with over 119M views, more than doubling from 53M since September 22 and the date announcement. The campaign of over 24 spots, trailers and BTS interviews are fed from the Marvel YouTube channel (14.8M subs) and cross-posted on to Disney+ YouTube (287K subs) and the Disney YouTube (5M subs) — all of which is ripped and reposted across movie, fan and superfan channels with over 120 videos, all with over 100k views and more,” says RelishMix.
During the month of November, Disney took pulsed beats on pushing the streaming series, the first to star characters from the MCU. Specifically, there was an Entertainment Weekly cover and first-look images that debuted online. On Nov. 12, the drop date for WandaVision was announced on social with a custom motion poster. Empire magazine debuted a WandaVision cover online along with a special alternate subscriber cover.
December was the payoff stretch for the WandaVision campaign with six decade posters — for the 1950s, ’60s, ’70s, ’80s, ’90s, 2000s — which were pushed online daily from Dec. 4-9 to subliminally tease an upcoming content drop, which, of course, was the second trailer, which was unveiled during Marvel Boss Kevin Feige’s presentation on Disney Investor Day, Dec. 10. That trailer alone generated close to 9M views on YouTube. New payoff key art was pushed online immediately.
While many studios having curbed their theatrical P&A spend during the pandemic, Disney spared no amount of exposure promoting WandaVision across its sister companies in a synergistic blitz. This included not just ad spots but special-look stunt interstitials, co-branded takeovers, on-air graphic integrations, in-show integrations and custom talent content.
Even today on the series launch day, there’s one 15-second spot airing every hour along with animated billboards across ABC, ABC O&Os, ESPN, ESPN Deportes, Freeform, FX/FXX/FXM, National Geographic, Nat Geo Wild and Hulu. On Christmas Day, there was a 60-second special look during the ABC Disney Parks Magical Christmas Day Parade broadcast. See below:
Separately, as part of Disney’s cross-promotion for WandaVision, there was an ESPN SportsCenter Virtual Set Takeover showcasing the logo’s transformation through the decades (starting in 1979). There was a Hulu custom social stunt featuring director Matt Shakman connecting retro looks from WandaVision to nostalgic hit TV shows. And on FX and FXX, there was close to 20 minutes of programming featuring the two-minute making of WandaVision.
WandaVision was also advertised in a near-ubiquitous presence across key broadcast hits including NFL & NBA games, primetime TV, cable, and streaming platforms.
WandaVision‘s digital push included its Instagram account launch, which served up a never-before-done
“reality bending” grid that updates on its own (you can see what we’re talking about here). Custom Twitter emojis included #Wanda, #TheVision, and #WandaVision, updating week over week as the season evolves across the decades. There was a “Heart to Remind” launch on Twitter, encouraging users to like that tweet to receive reminders when new WandaVision episodes debut. Black-and-white character posters were dropped digitally between Jan. 10-14.
So that key talent and influencers could tweet photos about the series, Disney sent them a TV-dinner box that had a custom TV tray, utensil set, coasters, drinking glasses and a journal designed to look like a vintage TV Guide with a custom cover. A talent panel Q&A streamed on Twitter yesterday with the Wandavision cast, filmmakers and appearances from other MCU talent.
Even though Hollywood movies have scaled back in their outdoor presence during Covid with lesser traffic and box office capitals NYC and L.A. closed, streaming series billboards have been prevalent in both cities; Wandavision being no exception. If you’re in L.A., you’ll see billboards on the Sunset Strip, Beverly Center, W Hotel Hollywood, and Hollywood towers; while in NYC you’ll find motion billboards in Times Square and outside Penn Station.