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How Marvel’s Shang Chi Marketing Pivoted In The Pandemic

A new movie from Marvel? Amazing. The first movie in a long time with a new character and Asian representation? Double amazing. Marvel movie releases are such huge events with a lot of fanfare and promotions, they make everyone want to watch them.

A new movie from Marvel? Amazing. The first movie in a long time with a new character and Asian representation? Double amazing. Marvel movie releases are such huge events with a lot of fanfare and promotions, they make everyone want to watch them.

Image Source: The D Insider

But that is when things are normal, and everyone is going about their life as usual. When a movie is releasing in the middle of a pandemic and that too, in theatres, there are a lot of hoops to jump through.

Marvel, however, is never one to shrink away from a challenge. We know the brand for marketing its products to the sky and back. Shang Chi, one of the most anticipated movies from the MCU, is getting no less. 

Coming hot to the screens near you and OTT platforms (i.e. Disney+), Shang Chi is one of the few movies to have a hybrid release. Marvel’s marketing strategy is also going hybrid with a lot of web and in-person promotional events. 

Seeing a major brand battle these challenges can be an eye-opener and teaching moment for brands struggling to handle these issues themselves. 

So let’s take a look at how Marvel is handling Shang Chi marketing campaigns in the pandemic.

Why is Shang Chi so special? 

You may wonder why we are picking Shang Chi out of the many movies and web series that have come out of the MCU in the last two years. Yes, we agree that there has been a ton of great superhero content released in the recent past, and especially from Marvel. In fact, Marvel has been having quite a dream run in the last thirteen years with 24 films generating $23 billion.

So, what is so special about Shang-Chi?

Well, quite a few things. Shang Chi is one of the first few movies in the Marvel Universe’s Phase 4 plan. Keeping in line with diverse superheroes getting their solo hits, Shang Chi will join the prestigious club of Black Panther and Captain Marvel.

Also, it is the first movie with an Asian lead. 

The fact that it is the second Marvel movie to have a theatre + Digital release is just one more element that makes Shang Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings.

All these special considerations make it a harder project to market. There are too many variables, and each one needs careful attention. 

And understanding how to work with different variables can make a tremendous difference to any business’s marketing strategy. 

So, we’re doing a thorough analysis of how Marvel has dealt with the pandemic to ensure success for Shang Chi to help you get inspiration too.

Kimp has curated the advertising and promotional activities by Marvel across platforms with lessons you can use for your business. 

Let’s get this show on the road.

Shang Chi Marketing Strategies from Marvel 

The Shang Chi marketing may not be entirely what Marvel wanted it to be. In an ideal situation, there will be premiers, fan meets, comic con events, and whatnot to promote a movie release. But with the pandemic looming over everyone, the team had to become creative.

Building up Anticipation 

Now no one does this better than Marvel. Right from the time the movie is in production to the time it is ready for release, they never stop talking about it. But like everything else, Shang Chi ran into trouble there too. The original release had to be pushed off due to the looming threat of Delta Variant and the ambiguity in the restrictions around theatres.

The official trailer for Marvel’s Shang Chi was released only four months before the release date, but the team worked hard to ensure it shone. The trailer has over 20 million views on YouTube. But the buzz creation team did not stop there. 

Shang Chi has official handles on Instagram and Twitter, where the team is quite consistent in posting content that intrigues people about the movie. The more they post, the more people seem to want the movie release to happen sooner. 

So, what can you take away from here?

Well, first of all, this should show you that buzz creation is serious business. When you launch an event or drop a new product, you need the people on your side. You need everyone to anticipate it and maybe even make the website crash when you launch. 

Second of all, an exclusive platform for the product with its own brand identity is a vital element in ensuring the product can hold its own in the market. Depending on how big the launch is for your business, consider investing in building a visual identity and brand for your product to ensure its success. 

Kimp Tip: Teasers, trailers, and even countdown posters can truly rake up the expectation among the audience. You can also create videos that provide a small sneak peek or unintentional information so that the grapevine is forever buzzing. 

Looking to create stunning teasers and promo videos for your products? Choose Kimp Video’s unlimited design subscription for unlimited design requests and revisions. 

Emotionally connect with the audience 

Ask anyone in marketing, and they will reaffirm that if you connect with your audience, you won half the battle. You can persuade them to do (almost) anything for you. That is the power of a brand that has the audience’s pulse on point.

Marvel has a huge task to handle with Shang Chi’s theatrical release. It is testing the waters to see if it is a worthwhile investment, and all eyes are on it. Now, you may be thinking, how can Marvel leave such a thing up to fate. That is the thing. They did not. 

Knowing how hard it is to make someone step out for entertainment in the middle of the pandemic, Marvel released an emotional tribute to the joy of cinema. This YouTube video celebrates all things that a movie theatre experience can give – the emotions, the happiness, and the feeling of togetherness. 

It is a subtle plug but works brilliantly. Now, this is not just for the Shang Chi marketing – but is a happy coincidence, some may say. We call it intelligent marketing.

The lesson for you in this:

Don’t run marketing campaigns just when you have something to sell. Sometimes it is just about connecting with the audience and customer base. You must create content that is not promotional but valuable to your users. It can be a heartwarming video of a recent project, BTS of your event setup, or a how-to tutorial that can make life so much easier. 

Connecting with your audience’s emotions will win the game for you. 

Kimp Tip: You may need a wide range of designs like flyers, social media content, or product packaging. Whatever the case, ensure that you choose colors, design styles, and typography that makes the audience connect with you. Every design element has a role to play in conveying your message, and you have to use it to the fullest.

Want your branding to make an impact on your users? Get Kimp Graphics to work with a dedicated design team and get high impact designs. 

The power of brand identity 

We briefly touched upon how having a distinct identity is important for the event or the product to hold its own. Marvel knows this, and that’s why every character has a figurine, Funko Pop, and an extensive merchandise line. They even have their symbols or logos that every T-shirt brand in the world seems to license. 

With the Shang Chi marketing, this was all the more important for Marvel. The movie is launching a new character into the MCU and the brand needs the audience to get 100% behind it. To make it a memorable character and combat the issues of the pandemic, visual identity is very important. So, there is now a Lego collection for the Shang Chi movie. Even before the movie was out there, the merchandise team achieved this. 

For a small business or event management company, a Lego set is not achievable of course. But what you can do to reinforce your brand is create small elements like a key chain, mug, T-shirt, or even a designer goodie bag that affirms the brand identity. These items can be part of giveaways or used as free gifts with purchase. This is how you build brand recall at short notice when you can’t do elaborate marketing campaigns.

Source: Lego

Kimp Tip: Launching branded merch can sound quite expensive for a small business, and we totally understand this. That is why we want to take the load off design costs for you. With Kimp’s unlimited graphic design subscription, you can get all of this at a flat monthly fee, irrespective of the volume. Just unlimited. Book a call with the team today to find out more. 

Offline Marketing 

Shang Chi has a hybrid release, meaning that after 45 days of theatrical exclusivity, the movie will be available for streaming. But Marvel and Disney have their heart set on making the theatrical release a success. So, it made sense that the team did not just rely on digital platforms to publicize this movie. 

The movie had one of the biggest billboards in Times Square to ensure it gets all the eyeballs it can get. Not just that, this is one of the few movies in recent times to have a proper red carpet premiere. 

The red carpet premiere had a socially distanced group of fans celebrate their love for comics and the movie. 

And to top it all off, the entire red carpet was live-streamed on YouTube so that fans from all over could experience it.

Kimp Tip: Never confine yourself to one platform. Especially when it comes to promoting an event or a product launch. In the middle of a pandemic, you need all the help you can get. Focus on coming up with concepts for marketing materials that can easily work across the web and print will help you scale your marketing campaigns more easily. 
With a Kimp subscription, you can secure your web and print campaigns with a variety of designs without worrying about the budget or any other limitations.

Draw attention to the team  

Humanizing a brand is a tough task. Especially when you are a vast conglomerate like Marvel. People look at Marvel and Disney as these big corporations. So forming an emotional connection can be a challenge. Especially if you’re the new kid on the block like Shang Chi. Up till now most fans have formed connections to the original Avenger’s team and Stan Lee.

So the marketing matters that much more for each new franchise. With the Shang Chi marketing, Marvel worked hard to ensure that the audience relates to the cast and crew so that a new connection gets forged. Each of these stars has their own time in the limelight with interviews, backstories, and active involvement in promotion. 

To go a little further, the team even did a review of the battle-ready products and recounted their experiences of being in the movie. Marvel made sure people fell in love with the stars before they even went to the movies.

Can you replicate this? 

Yes, of course. Putting a face to the brand is always valuable. When you put yourself out there and share your personal connection with the product, it can truly tilt in your favor. You can create brand story videos on social media, share BTS stories from the perspectives of the team through static posts or videos, or even market the product with the team photos in the design.

Implement Lessons From Shang Chi Marketing with Kimp Design Subscriptions 

Businesses often feel that they want to replicate the marketing campaigns all the big brands do. And in some cases their product, service or their brand as a whole might be a good fit for a certain marketing campaign. But it is in trying to find the right resources where they get stuck.

But no more! Do you want to launch a powerful brand or marketing campaign of your own? Well, let’s go. All you need – video animation, graphic design, video editing, illustration, and infographic designs – we do it all. And then some.

With Kimp Video and Kimp Graphic subscriptions, you can have it all with unlimited design requests under a flat monthly fee.

So sign up for the free trial to see if Kimp is right for you. And let’s get cracking on your best campaign designs yet.