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In the wake of the highly anticipated release of DC Comics-derived Suicide Squad, fans and critics around the world have found themselves disappointed yet again by just the latest of a long list of DC films that have proven overwhelmingly underwhelming. Though I won’t spoil the plot, it’s important to note that the film is being criticized for its lack of direction, its inability to meaningfully involve each member of its star-studded cast, and its underlying cheesiness. The overhyped anticipation and ensuing soul-crushing disappointment brings memories of the calamitous Batman vs. Superman release, a film that was rocked by criticism despite a record-breaking production budget of $250 million. Regrettably, I fell victim to the hype. I expected a raunchy, thrilling, and witty movie.  At the very least, I expected the star-power alone to keep me invested and engaged throughout. Wasted expectations, I suppose. Despite the initial shockwaves of disappointment surrounding the film’s release, Suicide Squad is still expected to rake in the dough at the box office. The movie’s almost dreadfully long and impressively multidimensional marketing campaign has left countless feeling an odd sense of cognitive dissonance, their brains saying “it’s not worth it,” their hearts holding out hope. After all, when you invest as much time, money, and thought into a marketing campaign of Suicide Squad’s epic proportions, it’s easy to take an almost hypnotic grip of thrill-thirsty movie-goers. What exactly lead to this sense of unavoidable curiosity?


The film’s marketing campaign was officially launched in May of 2015, when a tweeted photo of the cast sent people into a frenzy.  The tweets kept rolling in, one featuring star Margot Robbie tattooing staffers on set, another featuring Jared Leto as a frightening yet clown-y joker. Twitter did a great deal of good in laying the groundwork for Suicide Squad’s campaign, building anticipation for the trailers which then built anticipation for the film itself. The twitter campaign was the first domino to fall in what turned out to be a brilliantly crafted strategy of captivating, all-angled marketing. Though some product marketers may underestimate the impact of a strong social media marketing campaign, the fact that Suicide Squad invested the resources and time that it did into creating a twitter presence proves that social media marketing is below no one. Your product could greatly benefit from getting a little “air-time” online.


If you haven’t seen the first trailer for the film, then I feel confident in assuming that you’ve been living under a rock for the past year or so. If you do, indeed, reside under a rock, 1) I’m sorry to hear that, and 2) here’s the trailer:   Ain’t she a beaut? When I first saw the trailer, I was happier than a fat kid at a Hershey factory. Part of me wishes that the movie itself was just an endless loop of its own trailers, as they ultimately proved more entertaining, more captivating, and more worthwhile than the actual film. In time, a second trailer was released. When the third came, it became evident that the trailers were intended to leave people starving for more. In retrospect, the trailers may have been too awe-inspiring, to the point where it left people with unreasonably high expectations that couldn’t be met. Regardless, the trailer angle of the marketing efforts proved wildly successful in generating a frenzy that will ensure profitability at the box office, despite the film’s underwhelming content.     While marketers generally don’t have the resources to create a trailer to showcase products, one can nevertheless build anticipation by creating aesthetically pleasing visuals to promote their brand. This could manifest in graphics, photo campaigns, or, if possible, producing short and clever video clips. Most won’t be able to create visuals like that of Suicide Squad, but that doesn’t mean they shouldn’t try.


In a rather innovative move, Suicide Squad marketers periodically “leaked” photos and stories from the set as part of an initiative to create an aura of mystery surrounding the film. The film’s cast is impressive, to say the least, and giving people a sneak-peak into their on-set personalities (i.e. costumes, tattoos, etc.) served to generate interest beyond built-in celebrity appeal. At some point, the “leaks” seemed so obviously intentional that the whole move came across as tacky, but they nevertheless served their role in hyping the film. Whether you can use “leaks” to build anticipation depends on the nature of your product. If you’re developing smartphones like Apple, “leaking” details about new features would absolutely serve to generate hype. If you offer cloud-computing software, “leaks” may not benefit you at all. If you think “leaks” could create some buzz around your product, then go for it! It couldn’t hurt. By release, the film’s brand had become bigger than the film itself. So is the reason why viewers purchased their tickets with such ridiculously high expectations. The film’s marketing efforts were wildly successful in that they essentially guaranteed box office success regardless of the film’s content, but they failed to leave more to be desired; more to be excited about once it came time to watch the movie. Whether you enjoy the film or not, you should at least feel fortunate that the entire Suicide Squad experience, from tweets to trailers to leaks, can teach you a thing or two about product marketing.  As they did in Batman vs. Superman, DC Comics has again appeared to beat the critics by all but guaranteeing whopping box office success through savvy marketing. This is yet another striking reminder of the enormous power product marketers hold.  


James Mello
James is the Lead Author & Editor Product2Market of Blog. James writes for the Product2Market blog to create a source for news and discussion about some of the issues, challenges, news, and ideas relating to Product Marketing.