The long-anticipated sequel to The Incredibles exploded onto to our screens this summer and has proven to be one of the most popular films of the year so far. But how much of this was fuelled by Disney’s unparalleled marketing strategy?
The Incredibles 2 saw record-breaking box office figures, raking in over $182m in its opening weekend and becoming the most successful animated feature in recent history. At the time of writing, the film has grossed just shy of one billion dollars worldwide and has a 93% rating on Rotten Tomatoes.
There are many reasons, no doubt, for its overwhelming success: from impeccable timing in line with the school summer holidays, to its universal appeal. Like many Pixar films, the Incredibles franchise contains enough gags to amuse both children and parents alike. As is the case with long-postponed sequels such as Toy Story 3 and Finding Dory, The Incredibles 2 also draws in an audience of twenty-somethings, who saw the original as kids and can now watch with an alternative perspective.
What was particularly noticeable on this occasion, however, was the concerted effort Disney’s marketing machine put into endorsing the movie before its release (with some help from their endless cash reserves) on multiple online and offline channels. Whether this was because I fell into one of their core target demographics this time around, or they really believed that this movie would be a bigger hit than Shrek, Frozen and classics like The Lion King, they outdid themselves even by their unrivalled marketing standards.
Weeks prior to its UK release date, I was bombarded with various versions of the official trailer on social media. Nearly every time I checked my Facebook newsfeed, a clip of the trailer popped up as a sponsored post. The same went for sponsored content on my Instagram timeline and stories feed. It seemed like Disney were spending a lot of money ensuring I got the message.
Data from TubularInsights.com reveals that The Incredibles 2 trailers acquired a massive 194m Facebook views via official channels and affiliated media properties in the lead up to its US release on June 15th. This figure obliterates competitors Warner Brothers’ ‘Tag’ and Sony’s ‘Superfly’ released in the same week – obtaining 16m and 1.5m Facebook views respectively – who instead opted to place more focus on their YouTube channels.
The Incredibles 2 trailer content also secured twice the average level of engagement than the platform average for Facebook, and 1.3 times the average engagement on YouTube (despite only receiving 829k YouTube views).
Other content on the movie’s official channels was varied and absorbing; from a tour of the Parr family’s new house to interviews with the voice cast about their characters, condensed into short, amusing and informative clips suitable for both new and longstanding fans of the franchise.
Merch, merch and more merch
I happened to visit Disneyland Paris in early July and observed that the core focus of almost every gift shop in the entire complex was The Incredibles 2. Perhaps partly down to bright red being more noticeable than the pastel colours adorning rails of princess dresses, The Incredibles branded merchandise dominated the very centre of any retail space.
This is, of course, true to Disney’s style – the company is notorious for its arguably aggressive brand reinforcement which can become borderline overwhelming. From clothing to mugs, keyrings to plush toys, and beach towels to pet harnesses, you too could become a walking advert for the film. Disneyland Resort California have even opened a dedicated ride to the series – ‘The Incredicoaster’ – which opened on June 23rd of this year.
Outside the all-encompassing boundaries of Disneyland resorts, Disney Pixar released its latest console game in association with Lego and TT Games (‘Lego: The Incredibles’), joining other Lego adaptations from the ever-growing list of Disney franchises including Star Wars, Indiana Jones, Marvel Super Heroes and Pirates of the Caribbean.
Perhaps the most refreshing and tasteful collection of merchandise that has spawned from the movie is the BoxLunch clothing and accessories collection, which is a little less conspicuously branded than Disney’s direct offerings. This provides an alternative means of self expression for the more fashion-conscious fans. Personally, I want to buy all of it.
Nostalgic billboard posters
The return of The Incredibles saw an array of new promotional posters which could be found in both online and offline settings, as with most cinematic releases.
The film is, first and foremost, targeted at children, and unsurprisingly a number of colourful, dynamic artworks were released in order to appeal to this demographic (created by Pixar artist Eric Tan). However, rather than reproducing simple carbon copies of the characters, Tan applied a flat, angular graphic style reminiscent of vintage comics. The texture and simplified lines, in my opinion, work very effectively to distinguish the franchise from other all-too-common 3D animated features (whilst keeping the characters recognisable).
But that’s not all. There was an accompanying set of official posters with a slightly different theme, aimed at the somewhat more mature fans (and parents) out there. I love the humourous and relatable spin on day-to-day chores (three takes on laundering your superhero outfit – one, two and three); this made a lasting impression on me and goes to prove how mindful Disney is of the differences between their core audiences.
More collaborations than you can shake a stick at
It’s not uncommon for Disney to partner up with well-known brands to promote their latest cinematic offerings, and this time was no different. From trainers to tissues, The Incredibles branding seeped into everyday life, aided by such collaborations.
As part of their ‘I Move Me’ campaign, Asics designed a range of limited edition trainers inspired by The Incredibles, using the main characters as mascots and fictional influencers. The principle goal was to encourage families to get active together and the designs adopted core colour schemes from superhero costumes featured in the movie. It might sound a little gimmicky but it was executed very discerningly, as demonstrated by the promotional image below:
In the US, Chrysler partnered with The Incredibles 2 to promote its latest Pacifica model, also using the same family-friendly angle to highlight the car’s defining features and design. Diva fashion designer Edna Mode was used as the narrator, whose personality and distinguishable voice is much more entertaining and humorous than those used in other generic car commercials.
Samsung AR Emojis
Towards the end of May, Samsung released its newest batch of ‘incredible’ AR Emojis for download. Users can project, in augmented-reality, their own facial expressions onto emoji adaptations of the main characters, including Mr. Incredible, Jack-Jack and Frozone, and share these online. This is a fun and more interactive way of promoting awareness of the franchise which helps to bolster the movie’s social campaign.
Other collaborations included Sky, Soltan, Plenty and Kleenex (which included a cut-out superhero mask as part of the packaging).
Disney doesn’t hold back when it comes to promoting new cinematic content before release. Understanding and observing The Incredibles’ diverse fanbase has enabled them to collaborate with other brands to directly target a wide age bracket. Its battle for recognition on social has resulted in an unrivalled number of views and has no doubt increased its already universal appeal.
Disney has, once again, demonstrated the power of its formidable marketing formula, and their efforts have been translated into an outstanding box-office result.
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