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Avatar Movie Marketing: 15 Lessons For A Superhit Marketing Strategy

Can you believe that it’s been 13 years since the world was introduced to the world of Pandora for the first time? The much-awaited Avatar movie is here after more than a decade. But that has not stopped people from talking about the movie with the same enthusiasm. While fans are excited to meet Jake Sully on the big screen again, we are excited to explore the marketing tactics that Disney has been using for Avatar: The Way of Water. 

Avatar movie illustration
Design by Kimp

Movie producers spend hundreds of millions of dollars on their movies. But not all of them manage to enter the billion-dollar club at the box office. Not all of them manage to sustain the position of the highest-grossing film for more than a decade. The first Avatar movie achieved all these feats and more. 

Making a huge box office collection is one thing. But creating a devoted fan base that will root for you and welcome a sequel with both arms years after the first one is definitely commendable. That’s why we admire the marketing approach for the Avatar movie franchise and how the strategies have evolved over the years. 

Are you ready to explore these strategies with us and take away some useful marketing lessons for your brand? Hop on to your mountain banshee and let’s go. 

What makes the marketing approach for the Avatar movie so special?

There are many movie franchises that create memorable brands and win a loyal fanbase. But what makes the Avatar movie franchise unique? We’ll give you an overview. 

Most sequels are launched a few years after the first movie. Because you do not want the ripple to settle down before your next movie comes. But for the Avatar movie franchise, it is a 13-year gap. The first Avatar movie hit the screens in 2009. A lot has changed since then in terms of technology, cultural scenarios, and media production/distribution/consumption. We’ll give you a few quick facts to give you a better perspective of what 2009 looked like: 

  • We gauge social media engagement through Facebook likes but 2009 was the year Facebook’s Like button debuted
  • Back then, the  Twitter logo looked like this:
  • Why, Instagram was still not born!
  • Gen Zers form a major portion of today’s consumer market. When the first Avatar movie was released, most Gen Zers were still in their childhood and some weren’t even born yet! 

Well, that’s what the gap between the Avatar movies looks like. 

Can you see the huge shift in terms of the target audience and technology that the creators of this movie have had to keep up with? Nevertheless, Avatar: The Way of Water has crossed the $600 million mark hardly a week since its release. 

That’s what blockbuster marketing strategies can do for a brand. That’s what carefully executed campaigns focused on memorability can do for your brand! Looking for inspiration? Let’s talk about the Avatar movie marketing strategies. Let’s look at some of the campaigns and ideas that worked in the promotion of Avatar: The Way of Water as well as those that helped preserve a brand and audience over a decade. 

Avatar: The Way of Water – X campaigns and marketing ideas we love 

1. Release of the trailer at the Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness screening

The sequel was earlier scheduled to be released toward the end of 2021. But then the pandemic happened! To ensure that eager fans do not have to wait any longer, Disney released the teaser trailer of Avatar: The Way of Water about 6 months ahead of the release, in May 2022. And this was at the screening of the movie Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness. Cross-promotion at its best! 

Kimp Tip: 

Cross-selling has become a necessity in marketing today. Many big brands like Disney have been actively adopting this strategy for most of their campaigns. 

2. Avatar: The Way of Water: The Visual Dictionary

The Avatar movie marketing crew knows that the magic in print marketing is still alive. Aligned with the date of release of the movie, a visually-engaging book called “Avatar: The Way of Water: The Visual Dictionary” was published. 

The book is like an encyclopedia for the world of Pandora. It helps new fans know and understand the movie better and the existing fans to relive the old movie. 

Kimp Tip: 

To keep up with the fast pace of the marketing realm you need to have a balance between your print and digital marketing collateral. Each has its share of advantages. So, don’t fall for the misconception that print is dead. 

But yes, create print graphics that look relevant and connected to the digital generation. When the same design team handles all your print and digital designs this becomes so much easier. 

3. When the Avatar movie dressed up popular landmarks 

Some believe that Disney has been subtle in its approach toward Avatar: The Way of Water advertising. But we would say, the crew has been busy executing ideas that make heads turn. We are talking about the many outdoor advertising stunts that Disney executed for promoting this film. 

The below video shows the light show that was put up at Niagara Falls. 

But the true global brand that Disney is – such buzzworthy events happened in other parts of the world too. Lights at London’s Natural History Museum turned blue like the  Na’vi tribe. 

There’s one other promotional arrangement that truly impressed us. It shows what happens when you look at the big picture. The Venetian canals were lit up in blue forming an A, like the logo of the Avatar movie. 

See, when you have a great logo, you can make your mark in many ways. Sign up for Kimp

4. The blue carpet world-tour 

Red carpet events are for movies. But for Avatar, it had to be a “blue carpet” event! The team went on international tours to promote the movie. The blue carpet events conducted for the promotions added to the buzz the movie was already creating. 

Kimp Tip:

The marketing crew for the Avatar movie has been consistently using blue as the color in focus throughout their campaigns. From the posters to the event venues – the blue carpet in the above example. 

Even for such big brands, color is a component that makes or breaks the experience. In this case, a typical red carpet would have been “ordinary”. But the Avatar movie franchise is anything but “ordinary”. 

To replicate this for your brand, ensure that you have a strong choice of brand colors. And use them consistently in your digital designs as well as to create an ambiance in your offline events and in-store experiences. 

5. Create an Avatar-inspired ocean creature

In collaboration with The Nature Conservancy, the marketing team of the Avatar movie announced an online contest. The contest was about creating ocean creatures in the Virtual Pandoran Ocean. Disney announced that for every creature created, $5 will be given to The Nature Conservancy to conserve ocean creatures in the real world. 

Kimp Tip: 

Corporate social responsibility is not something reserved for big brands like Disney. People love brands that focus on the bigger good. And that’s why big brands do it – your brand should too. 

In this case, Disney collaborated with The Nature Conservancy for ocean creatures as virtual ocean habitat is the core theme of Avatar: The Way of Water. Similarly, instead of engaging in CSR activities for the sake of it, find the cause you can connect with your brand or niche. And then find the right partners for this. That’s one way to show what your brand stands for. 

6. Brand partnerships 

We spoke about partnerships just now. So, what kind of big brand partnerships did Disney land for promoting Avatar: The Way of Water?

Well, this is one area where Disney has kept things subtle this time. For the first Avatar movie, there was a long lineup of brands that partnered and launched merchandise and campaigns in collaboration with Avatar. But this time, two of the notable partnerships have been with Kellogg’s and Mercedes Benz. 

In partnership with Avatar, Mercedes Benz introduced a concept car named AVTR. The concept is that of a futuristic, fully-electric, emission-free all-wheel drive. The story of Avatar revolves around the preservation of the natural habitat at Pandora. So, the concept of a sustainable transportation model is definitely on point. 

Kellogg’s launched a new product in the Avatar Pandora theme named Pandora Flakes. This partnership is a way to reach the family audience. Getting get kids and adults to think about your brand when they sit to have their breakfast – definitely a good idea! 

Kimp Tip:

If you look at Disney’s brand partnerships this time, they have been very specific and they solve different purposes. Similarly, you do not have to spend your entire marketing budget on partnerships and collaborations. A few good ones with clearly defined goals make all the difference. 

Taking cues from the Avatar movie partnerships in this case, reaching a wider audience, and helping people understand your brand purpose are two very good objectives to aim for. 

7. Snaptchat AR Avatar lens 

The Avatar team, partnering with Snapchat, released an AR Avatar lens for people to capture a Na’vi version of themselves. 

Ideas like these are those that get a lot of engagement and are useful in both customer acquisition and customer retention. And they make perfect choices for the social media-loving customers. 

Kimp Tip: 

AR in advertising is already here and brands are actively using it. After all, it’s all about creating immersive experiences for your customers. Similar to AR ads, brands can also use other digital assets like stickers and GIFs for users to save and share. These leave a piece of your brand with them. 

Looking to create custom digital stickers or shareable GIFs for your customers? The Kimp team can help. 

8. Alexa’s Avatar theme 

Disney’s tie-up with Amazon for the Avatar theme on Alexa is the personification of creativity. The command “Alexa, enable ‘Avatar’ theme” activates a series of personalizations including the use of Avatar sounds and visuals while performing regular tasks. In short, Pandora takes over your world of Alexa. 

Quick tip for the Avatar movie fans: Ask Alexa to teach you Na’vi. It teaches you how to say common phrases in the Na’vi language. 

Kimp Tip: 

The above example shows the magnitude of using experiential marketing. There is a misconception that experiential marketing is about extravagant events. But the truth is, it’s truly about creating authentic, memorable experiences for your customers. And Disney’s idea of seamlessly blending these experiences into the day-to-day lifestyle is a master stroke. 

Other than these large-scale campaigns, the Avatar movie marketing team has also been quite active on social media. The various kinds of posts on the official Avatar page and the social media aesthetic of the brand are loaded with inspiration for marketers looking for ideas. Let’s look at some of the most effective ideas from them. 

Keeping the Avatar movie franchise alive through social media 

1. FAQ videos 

You’ll find videos that have the teams answering the common questions asked about the movie, the world of Pandora and the cast. The more the fans know about the movie and the people behind it, the more they enjoy it. The Avatar movie team does a great job by consistently answering customer questions. 

Kimp Tip: 

Similar to the above idea, you can use FAQ videos to add value to your website and campaign landing pages. Use social media to track the common questions customers have about your brand and your products. Answer them and help your customers understand your brand better. When they understand your brand better, they are more confident about doing business with you. 

2. Everybody loves memes 

We spoke about the ability of the Avatar movie franchise to stand the test of time. This has been possible because the social media team has managed to keep up with the social media trends. Talk about trends, memes are solid examples. People love communicating with memes. You’ll occasionally find an Avatar-themed meme with a relatable idea on the Avatar social media pages. 

Kimp Tip: 

While the themes on the Avatar page follow the brand theme, the core idea remains simple enough for all kinds of audiences to understand. The fact that big brands like these are using memes for engagement is proof that you should start incorporating them in your social media marketing. 

Need help creating branded memes? Get in touch with the Kimp team today. 

3. Acknowledge consumer-effort 

Brands that acknowledge consumer efforts and give them a shoutout wherever required are the ones that sustain the social media competition. The Avatar social media team does that brilliantly. 

You will see fan art being shared on the brand page regularly. This encourages more people to create content on this theme and therefore the brand gets free advertising! 

Kimp Tip: 

Several brands have a strong social media content plan and yet they fail miserably. This could be because of the one-way communication happening on their social media page. Posting content is not enough. You need to engage with your audience actively. 

4. Acknowledge your team’s efforts too 

The Avatar movie marketing team regularly shares content in appreciation of the cast and crew who made the iconic movie possible. After all, every little contribution that went into creating this splendor deserves a round of applause. 

Kimp Tip: 

Just like giving a nod to your consumers, regularly talk about your team as well. People love knowing about the people behind the brands they buy from. Sharing branded corporate culture images adds value to your social media pages. 

5. Share testimonials 

Soon after the release of Avatar: The Way of Water, the brand’s social media team shared reviews from critics and fans. In the entertainment industry, this is a particularly important strategy. When fans see what others are saying about the movie and the mere fact that a lot of people are talking about the movie evokes FOMO. This motivates them to watch the movie. 

Kimp Tip:

Reviews from existing customers sometimes perform better than the best marketing copy you can come up with. After all, people trust other people more easily than trusting a brand. 

Make it a point to share customer reviews and if you wish to make it more engaging, the Kimp team can help you curate a testimonial video for social media. 

6. Take customers behind the scenes 

One of the main reasons behind the success of the Avatar movie franchise has been the technology behind it, the idea, and how well the idea has been executed. The first movie was a visual spectacle, leaps ahead of the movies of its time. 

Fans are usually curious about knowing what goes into the making of such visual wonders. So, on the social media pages of the brand, you will constantly see behind-the-scene videos. These show the massive amounts of effort that go into crafting each scene and how they are then enhanced with CGI. 

Kimp Tip: 

While the rest of your marketing graphics focus on your brand and products, behind-the-scene videos are great ways to help people understand your processes better. When they see the amount of effort and planning that goes into delivering their products your brand image gets a boost. 

If you do not have the budget for professional video shoots you can always use raw footage. The Kimp team can help you edit these videos to make them look more professional. 

7. Use both evergreen and seasonal content 

From posts wishing celebrities on their birthdays to keeping up with international holidays and news, the social media team behind the Avatar movie has been keeping up with the social media craze in many ways. 

You’ll find brand-specific content related to the Avatar world as well as topical and seasonal content. For example, the below video went live on the brand’s YouTube channel close to Christmas. While focusing on seasonal content it still stays on-brand. 

Kimp Tip: 

There is a constant dispute about the significance of evergreen and seasonal content in marketing. The truth is most brands benefit from a harmonious mix of both. While your evergreen content shows your industry expertise and talks about your brand in general, your seasonal content helps initiate conversations. Seasonal content helps you win new leads and increase your brand visibility too. 

Start creating your Avatar movie marketing-inspired campaigns with Kimp 

Inspired by all the campaigns and marketing strategies that propelled the popularity of the Avatar movie, are you ready to revamp your brand’s marketing strategies? Then for the design part that helps carry your idea forward, a Kimp subscription is what you need. 
Register now for a free 7-day trial.