How Marvel Uses Brand Deals To Create Hype For New Shows


Table Of Contents


How Xbox Helped Marvel Transition From Phase 3 To Phase 4

In 2021, the entertainment industry has been dominated by Marvel Studios.  Content from Marvel has been everywhere, with fans raving over their new shows on the streaming service Disney+. With fan-favorite characters finally getting solo moments on these shows, people are falling in love with Marvel all over again. 

The production company's spring release was The Falcon and the Winter Soldier, and its season finale came in April 2021. How did the show grow over its six-week release and how did Marvel prepare for the introduction of a new show after the widespread love of Wandavison? In this blog, Hollywood Branded explores how Marvel used a brand deal to increase attention for its new shows and embellish old storylines.

How Marvel Uses Brand Deals To Create Hype For New Shows

All About Marvel

Almost everyone everywhere knows of the Marvel Cinematic universe. Whether it’s through the comics, movies, or big-name actors people know the name Marvel. Two years ago in 2019, they released the biggest movie of the last decade: Avengers: Endgame. This movie broke records at the box office and is known as one of the biggest impacts on pop culture from that year. This movie was also the end to Marvel’s Phase 3 of movies. A lot of beloved characters were lost during the grand finale and many hearts were left broken. 

However, there was a lot of talk about Phase 4 and what it meant for some of the characters fans already loved so much. People were wondering who we’d be getting to know better and if it was even worth it to get excited after such a fantastic movie like Avengers: Endgame. Marvel knew it had to create excitement so they took to marketing and brand deals to make sure fans of all superheroes would be ready for Phase 4.

What Are the Marvel Phases?

Marvel has released lots of movies over the years. However, they’ve split the stories into phases so new characters who are introduced have a direct place in the long storyline of the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU). Phase 1 ranged from Iron man to The Avengers. Phase 2 ranged from Iron Man 3 to Ant-Man. Phase 3 was Captain America: Civil War to Spider-Man Far from Home, (however, Avengers: Endgame was the main finale to the phase). Each phase introduces new major issues, villains, and heroes that all collectively came together to beat Thanos in Avengers: Endgame. The next phase to enter was Phase 4 and with a much bigger universe than ever before, Marvel had a lot of work to do to prepare for this phase.

Marvel Movie Posters

Phase 4 was perhaps, not as highly anticipated as previous Phases. After getting rid of a lot of well-known characters at the end of Phase 3, there was the question of whether or not people would lose interest in the MCU. However, with Disney’s new streaming service Disney+, Marvel revealed that a part of their Phase 4 would be new TV shows featuring some of everyone’s favorite heroes. (Even ones that were lost in Phase 3). 

What Kind Of TV Shows Are Being Released?

Well, Marvel has released TV shows before, (Agent Carter, Agents of Shield, Runaways, etc), and while loved by fans, they didn’t all have a large outreach. In fact, some were not even considered canon (a real storyline/event) in the MCU. However, these new shows attracted nothing but hype, especially after being put on hold by the pandemic. Shows, shorts, and new ideas never heard of before are on Marvel’s roster to release onto Disney+.

Future Marvel Shows

The pandemic even changed the order of the shows’ release dates, the first being Wandavision in January of 2021. This show instantly broke records. Despite only 5 out of the 9 half-hour episodes releasing in January, Disney+ broke Netflix’s streaming records. Wandavision was also reportedly the most expensive TV show ever made costing roughly $25 million per episode. People everywhere talked about the show on every social media platform and created more and more excitement for the beloved characters Wanda Maximoff and Vision. However, the series ended with a 4-week break between Marvel’s next TV show release: The Falcon and the Winter Soldier (TFATWS). Fans were sad to say goodbye to characters they loved so much and after all the hype for Wandavision, it was a big question if Falcon and the Winter Soldier would live up to the standard Wandavision set for all of the upcoming TV series.

New call-to-action

How Did This New Show Grab People's Attention?

Well, it was off to a rocky start. Wandavision started in mystery with a new format we’d never seen Marvel characters in before: a sitcom. Falcon and the Winter Soldier in trailers looked like just another Marvel movie. Filled with fight scenes and fight scenes and get it. However, Marvel came up with an idea that they knew would grab the attention of fans and help them focus on their upcoming show rather than focus on Wandavision forever. So they took to their marketing department. Releasing trailers and posters is one thing that’s bound to reach new fans and get people excited for phase 4, but they knew they needed to reach into the phase 3 audience. 

So The Falcon and the Winter Soldier decided to make a commercial with Xbox. Anthony Mackie, the Falcon, appeared in this commercial with a face Marvel fans hadn’t seen since phase 2 in Captain America: The Winter Soldier; The old face was an Apple store employee that talked to Captain America and Black Widow undercover. He was a minor character and was only in the movie for about 2 minutes. Completely forgettable. However, when Marvel placed him in this new Xbox commercial they knew by his identity reveal they would draw millions of viewers to the commercial and old fans' attention to The Falcon and the Winter Soldier. Xbox knew it too.

So What Did They Do?

In the commercial, they advertise Xbox’s new Series X|S gaming system. They have Falcon and the Apple store employee (now an Xbox employee) playing on the new gaming system. They compare the missions and things in video games to Falcon’s real-life experiences. Then, the apple store employee offers him a controller and reveals a big factor: his gaming handle is “noobmaster69.” Now, if anyone watched one of the biggest movies of 2019, this would be a familiar name. In the movie Avengers: Endgame, Thor is introduced after the blip playing Fortnite with his friends. In the same scene, they have a skirmish in the game with someone who seems like a familiar foe to their gaming fun: noobmaster69.

Xbox Commercial

So, with this reveal of this old character in the new commercial as this memorable name from a movie as big as Avengers: Endgame it was huge for advertising. The Youtube video for the commercial had 3 million views in just one month. I myself have seen it on Instagram, TikTok, and other social media platforms of fans freaking out about it. People have made edits and additional youtube videos about this commercial alone. Marvel brought this Phase 2 character into Phase 3 and Phase 4 of the MCU by joining with Xbox. From this, Xbox got so much more exposure for its new games and system. It was a win-win for both Marvel and Xbox and made fans everywhere fall in love with the genius of Marvel Easter eggs. 

This was also the first time Marvel fans had seen Mackie reprise his role since his appearance in Avengers: Endgame. This commercial created exposure for him and helped add to the storyline of Thanos’ snap.

What Does This Commercial Mean For Marvel?

If we’re being honest for Marvel it just created some buzz for a new show that perhaps wasn’t as highly anticipated as Wandavision. However, it meant a lot for Xbox. When the Xbox series X|S sales didn’t do as well as expected upon release in 2020, they knew they needed something that would draw attention to it and advertising with Marvel was perfect for that. Even fans who use Playstations and Nintendo devices will have heard of this new Xbox system after this commercial. Brand deals are great for getting audiences excited for the release of a new show, but it can be even better for a brand trying to expand its universe. The Falcon and the Winter Soldier was a hit. Now beating Wandavision as the most expensive show ever made it is in talks for future Emmys as a drama series. Marvel has high expectations for all of their future shows so who knows what brand will reach out to them next because whoever does will get exposure unlike ever before. 

Falcon and the Winter Soldier Poster

What Will Marvel Do in the Future?

The power of Marvel is not lost on companies and Marvel and Disney know the power of a brand deal. Both can benefit from each other. It’s important to pay attention to how each builds on one another and can help sell a product or new characters. Marvel has created something so big that there will always be room to bring on new partners. Who knows who will be there next? But with the most recent release of Loki setting up the rest of phase 4, it wouldn’t be a surprise to see marvel characters show up in new promotions soon.

Check out some of our other blogs to see what Marvel has done in the past for partnerships and marketing:

Want to know how your business can make the most from marketing? Click below to find out about costs in the entertainment industry and take your marketing to the next level!

download agency pricing guide for product placement