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When Social Media Campaigns Flat-Out Work: What to Learn from Deadpool and Burberry

Sometimes a brand will wage a social media campaign that demonstrates such thoughtful planning and fine execution that we in the industry have to take a moment and examine the artistry at hand, both to glean the lessons of the work and to simply appreciate it. Two recent campaigns, one for a fragrance and one for a film, have shown the cleverness and success that invite a closer look, delivering the right content in the perfect way to win attention, enthusiasm, and, ultimately, customers.

1. The Deadpool movie promotional campaign: irreverent social media heroics

The marketers at 20th Century Fox behind the movie Deadpool – which turned out to be something of a surprise mega-blockbuster – were smart to When Social Media Campaigns Flat-Out Work: What to Learn from Deadpool and Burberry | Social Media Todaycentralize the campaign on the hero himself, whose foul language and flippant charisma are the movie’s main draw for old and new fans alike. These marketers had an ace in the hole in Ryan Reynolds, the Deadpool actor who championed the movie as a genuine fan of the comics, signaling to diehard fans that the movie was indeed everything they were hoping for.

The campaign made clever use of the hero’s voice and humor across a full spectrum of marketing tactics, from TV appearances to billboards, custom emojis, emails, and even a takeover of Fandango, all with a social media centerpiece. Twitter activity from the official @deadpoolmovie account, Ryan Reynolds (@VancityReynolds) and celebrity fans like Patton Oswalt and Hugh Jackman helped promotional efforts blur into pure fandom. The first tweet of the Deadpool campaign - by Ryan Reynolds – set a high standard with 55,000 retweets and 52,000 likes. And the campaign followed through spectacularly from there, with the official Twitter handle nearing half a million followers, and the official Deadpool YouTube playlist earning 125 million views.

In addition to knowing their hook and focusing on their hero’s personality, the Deadpool campaign made careful use of brand ambassadors. Diehard fans of the comics were extremely vocal and engaged even before the movie was officially in development. These fans reached new heights in their organic support and excitement when signaled that the filmmakers and the lead actor would respect the source materials and were absolutely operating on their wavelength. Ryan Reynolds' personal enthusiasm for the project, as communicated and amplified across all social media and marketing channels, proved to be infectious for longtime comic fans and newcomers alike. The overkill of the campaign’s true omni-channel approach quickly achieved a brilliant over-the-top absurdity as well, hitting the mark with its tongue-in-cheek advertising that is over-aggressive to the point of comedy.

2. The Mr. Burberry fragrance launch campaign: ephemeral content with a lasting allure

In early April, Burberry began the marketing launch for its Mr. Burberry fragrance with a Discover tab on Snapchat. Taking advantage of Snapchat’s be-there-or-you’ll-miss-it format, Burberry delivered a 24-hour campaign of exclusive-yet-fleeting video content, including the première of an exclusive When Social Media Campaigns Flat-Out Work: What to Learn from Deadpool and Burberry | Social Media Todayshort film directed by Oscar-winning director Steve McQueen (12 Years a Slave). Key video content was also hosted on the Burberry YouTube channel. Snapcodes attached to select Burberry merchandise continue to extend the campaign to the retail realm, giving shoppers the opportunity to access additional video content by scanning those QR codes.

The success of the campaign really demonstrates the importance of considering the medium and selecting the correct channel. In this case, Burberry earned over 400,000 views of its YouTube-hosted Mr. Burberry content in less than two weeks. Snapchat results were not published, but the brand’s follower count saw a significant jump during the campaign. A video-driven campaign calls for a video-centric channel, such as Snapchat, Vine or YouTube. In the feng shui of social media campaigns, a mismatch between channel and content can block a campaign’s success, while harmony between these can create a glide path for users to discover, enjoy, and share what a brand has to offer.

Another important takeaway from Burberry’s campaign: marketers shouldn’t be afraid to embrace FOMO (fear of missing out), and the compelling urgency a medium like Snapchat produces. Nowadays, marketers feel the pressure to squeeze the last drop from every piece of content, and get in front of every last set of eyeballs even as diminishing returns set in. Cases like this one show how making select content exclusive and with a built-in expiration date actually elevates its value and creates special experiences.

Both of these campaigns demonstrate social media’s power in giving users something to be a part of, whether it’s content set to disappear that conjures a compelling moment, or a sarcastic hero inviting others to be in on the joke. It’s successes like these that remind us marketers how special – and fun – the experiences created by social media campaigns can and ought to be.

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