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BE LIKE DEADPOOL A Case study in red
Last year I did something crazy.
Last year I did something creative that had no strategy or data behind it.
Last year I did something creative based entirely on emotion, experience and being a massive fanboy.
Crazy, I know.
Two trends go to war
Two trends exploded on to the internet in 2015.
Be Like Bill, a badly drawn stick figure meme, who often wore a knitted hat appeared in the latter part of 2015 to quite a buzz. Often accompanied with text such as “Bill is on Twitter. Bill is a vegan. Bill doesn’t tell everybody about it. Bill is smart. Be like Bill”, many described it as a passive-aggressive response to social media behaviours that irritated and annoyed the wider internet.
It garnered quite a negative backlash, which was certainly warranted, attracting a large number of detractors who criticised the meme’s smug rhetoric and total lack of self-awareness.
The second and perhaps more important trend was the Deadpool movie and its over the top marketing machine.
Released in February of 2016, the movie was a critical and financial success, breaking numerous records and becoming the highest grossing R-rated movie of all time.
This was in part due to the very outrageous, but ultimately successful marketing strategy.
The campaign (we won’t use the word ‘viral’ here) had been in full swing since its roll out in March 2015 with an image of the “Merc with a Mouth” lying on a bearskin rug. A mere hint of what madness was to come.
Fans and moviegoers were bombarded with gifs, billboards, videos and PSAs (the Testicular Cancer awareness content was a stroke of genius) right up to the opening weekend of the picture. The team created a barrage of irreverent TV, digital and social content. Some felt it was too extreme. Others regarded it as the first time a marketing agency had got it right.
The key to success? The content didn’t need to be movie-centric, it needed to be all about Deadpool.
It was wonderful.
An unseen side effect of the marketing strategy which wasn’t planned for but ultimately contributed to the overall success, was the mountain of user generated content that was produced.
Fans from all over the world spewed out everything from beautiful photoshopped movie posters to volumes of homoerotic fan fiction.
The in-your-face marketing had created a freedom that hadn’t been seen before. Not even with the likes of The Dark Knight campaign had there been such anarchic input from the marketing team or the fans.
Truly it broke the fourth wall.
And it inspired me to get involved.
Doing the nasty
One cold late afternoon in January 2016, having some much-needed downtime after a hectic Christmas period, I found myself flipping through several articles about the upcoming release of the Deadpool movie. As a long-standing fanboy and with my birthday literally days before the UK premiere I was truly excited.
At the same time, Buzzfeed, the Daily Mail and numerous other content hubs where awash with articles on the Be Like Bill phenomenon.
This annoyed me. Bill annoyed me. Bill was killing my buzz with his self-indulgent smugness.
It was time to retaliate!
Not being affiliated in any way to the Deadpool marketing machine (one can dream), I threw together a meme.
Bill, the epitome of annoyance versus Deadpool, a trained assassin and a character with a penchant for breaking the fourth wall. The plan was simple. Deadpool would kill Bill…
I created the #BeLikeDeadpool meme in about ten minutes and posted it to 9GAG, a social media platform with a “Just for Fun” mentality, the perfect place for this type of subject matter.
What happened next was completely unexpected on my part.
In just 2 days of posting it had:-
31,960 Upvotes with 443 comments on 9GAG. An additional 15k likes, 14k shares and 687 comments on their official Facebook page.
Elsewhere on Facebook the “Marvel Universe Rocks My World” fan page had garnered 13,372 likes & 28,325 Shares with roughly 825 comments.
Twitter was less engaged with 2.5k likes and 2k retweets. But still.
This was all organic. No paid in sight.
And it didn’t stop there. Reposted across numerous social platforms, it popped up on Reddit, Imgur and several spots on Tumblr.
Not too shabby for 10 minutes work.
The most satisfying part was seeing so many people assume it was actually part of the marketing machine.
Considering there are roughly fifty thousand posts to Facebook every minute, the odds were certainly stacked against my single post even making a dent in the social stratosphere. But it did. And that made me happy.
Chimichanga to go
It still makes me happy a year on. Not so much for its minor success, but more for its simplicity.
Here was a very straightforward, cost effective, creative idea. There was no big strategy behind it. The insight was entirely emotive and the knowledge based on the love of a ‘brand’ and its legacy.
Experience had taught me how to execute the idea succinctly and the perfect platform on which to publish it. There were no figures or statistics to back up the thinking. No research or polls.
Just a straight from the hip, gut instinctive, creative idea. Which, in this data and strategy preoccupied industry we now find ourselves, can sometimes be dismissed out of hand.
And that’s a shame.
But then again, we don’t have to be like Bill. We can be like Deadpool.
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