Marvel’s Social Media Campaign Makes Captain America: Civil War Highest Grosser Of 2016

5 Min Read. |

Marvel_logoAbout Marvel Entertainments: 

Marvel Entertainment, LLC (marketed as MARVEL) is a wholly owned subsidiary of The Walt Disney Company. The Walt Disney Company is the top grossing distributor of movies in America in the 1995-2016 time frame with more than 500 movies and a market share of 15.07%.

There have been 13 movies released till date under the MARVEL banner, with more in the pipeline. The films are based on and developed from MARVEL comics(founded as Timely Comics in 1939) which includes characters such as Iron Man, Captain America, Thor, Ant-Man, Hulk, Spider-Man, and teams such as the Fantastic Four, the Avengers, the Guardians of the Galaxy and the X-Men. The series of films in this MARVEL Cinematic Universe(as they are known) which started from Iron Man in 2008, have all done exceptionally well at the Box Office generating a total revenue greater than 10 billion dollars.

By Source, Fair use, the Movie:

Captain America: Civil War (released in May 2016) is the latest movie in the MARVEL Cinematic Universe featuring the Marvel Comics character Captain America. It is the third movie which features Captain America as the main character, after Captain America: The First Avenger(2011) and  Captain America: The Winter Soldier(2014).  The movie also features many well known characters such as Iron Man(Tony Stark), Thor, Bucky Barnes, Black Widow, Hawk Eye, Black Panther, Ant Man & SpiderMan.

The storyline of Captain America: Civil War revolves around discord sown among the Avengers due to disagreements over signing of an International treaty and division of the Avengers into two opposing teams: one lead by Captain America(Steve Rogers) and the other by Iron Man(Tony Stark).

Marketing Goals & Objectives:

  • Worldwide Box Office Success:
    According to the MPAA(Motion Picture Association of America) about 400 movies are released every year in Hollywood. In order to achieve success at the box office, movies have to maximise their audience in the first couple of weekends. Hence, they need to create enough Buzz about the movie, making audiences around the world eagerly anticipate its release.
  • Nurture & grow its fan base across all demographics:
    MARVEL has always been good at interacting with its fan base. With this movie’s marketing campaign, MARVEL aimed at increasing the involvement of its fans and the audience engagement with the movie as well as the brand, to previously unattained levels by leveraging the power of social media marketing.
  • Strategic selection & increase in brand partnerships:
    MARVEL(Walt Disney) has partnered with a number of Brands for the promotion of all its movies, being able to promote the brands in a meaningful way, and without any cheap product placements in its movies. In this case, it aimed at strengthening already existing partnerships as well as forging new ones across multiple categories including luxury cars, electronics, food, fashion &  e-commerce.

Marketing Campaign

The stage for the movie Captain America:Civil War was set in the post-credit scene of Ant-Man. MARVEL has successfully used the post-credit scene to create buzz and establish continuity among all its movies in the MARVEL Cinematic Universe.

The marketing for this movie was done through a number of channels including traditional channels like print & TV with primary focus given to its Digital Media Campaign and Brand Partnerships.

Brand partnerships & Product tie-ins:

For the entire series of movies in the Marvel’s massive $200 million marketing campaign saw it partnering with more than 100 companies and brands worldwide in the form of product tie-ins. The partnerships included big brands like Coca-Cola, Google, Samsung, Wrigley and Harley-Davidson, Audi, Synchrony Financial, Pizza Hut, Kellogg’s, Pop Secret, Mouser Electronics and Vivo.

Notable among them was the brand partnership & strategic product placement with Audi. A number of superheroes in the movie are seen using a range of Audi cars. Audi also released a cross promotional commercial “The Chase” which featured previously unreleased footage.

Digital Media Campaigns:

The Crux of the Digital Campaign: Leveraging on the storyline for this movie, MARVEL used the line from the original comics “Whose side are you on?” to launch a massive digital campaign on various social media platforms including Youtube, Twitter and Facebook.

There were 2 trailers released in the movie, the first one in November 2015 and the other in March 2016. According to Wikipedia, the first trailer was viewed 61 million times in the first 24 hours whereas the second one did even better with close to 91 million views worldwide. The first trailer was the #1 trending topic on Twitter within the first few hours of its release.

As a part of its Facebook campaign,  Marvel  released with two teaser videos showcasing the participants on “Team Cap” and “Team Iron Man”. Also, the Facebook pages of Captain America, Iron Man and other characters were actively updated throughout the campaign to reflect the change in mood of the two rival teams.

On Twitter,  fans were invited to join one of the two teams in the movie by tweeting either#TeamCap or #TeamIronMan. Also, the fans were sent a personalised video according to their team of choice straight from the Twitter handles of the star-studded cast.

This resulted in a global response from fans in the form of 1000s of tweets, blog posts, discussions and debates around the topic and raised the consumer interaction to brand new levels.

Results achieved

Box office response: As of July 24, 2016, Captain America: Civil War has grossed $406.8 million in North America and $744.4 million in other territories for a worldwide total of $1.151 billion (Source: Wikipedia) making it the highest grossing movie in this year yet.


This movie is a classic case of “Great content combined with great marketing”. The movies in the MARVEL Cinematic Universe have been planned before the start of  and announced till the year 2020, which helps the company effectively create anticipation for the next movie and a sense of “growing up” with the movies. Here, MARVEL has used social media marketing to reach its audience worldwide, making them feel connected to the movie, its characters and its heroes. Leveraging the reach and interactiveness of the social medium in this way plays to its advantage, keeping the audience interested not only in this movies outcome but also to continue to support the brand in its upcoming endeavours.

Image Credits: Wikipedia, MARVEL

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