Unleash the Power of Black Panther with these 4 Marketing Techniques

February 26, 2018
Max Rawls

On February 16, 2018, Marvel Studios released Black Panther in the United States. Now a new Marvel movie hitting theaters isn’t particularly noteworthy in and of itself, however something else happened with this film that no one expected: Black Panther broke box office records with a $235 million opening weekend. 

On top of this incredible achievement, here are some of the other records broken:

  1. Biggest February Opening
  2. Biggest Non-Sequel Opening
  3. Biggest Long-Holiday Opening Weekend
  4. Biggest Pre-Summer Opening

Disney CEO, Robert Iger tweeted four days later, "The world has embraced Black Panther, which has obliterated expectations, broken records & shattered myths. Powerful storytelling that touches hearts, bridges cultures, opens minds.” 

According to the Los Angeles Daily News, the movie is also the biggest Hollywood’s ever made that’s set primarily in Africa, with an almost all-black cast of actors from around the world. It’s a positive vision of Africa and its culture rarely seen on the big screen – and never before on this scale. Black Panther elevates superhero cinema to thrilling new heights (Rotten Tomatoes). 

Black Panther is a huge success in thanks to the years of hard work that Marvel Studios, Kevin Feige, Ryan Coogler and the talented team of actors poured into this movie.

Also at play? A brilliant marketing strategy executed by the Marvel franchise. With this, let’s review the four key areas of success from the Black Panther marketing and how you can apply these techniques to your company.

It was obvious from the first few frames in the 2017 Teaser Trailer that Marvel Studios and the marketing team behind them, understood exactly what the film had to offer, and who they should target. With a hard-hitting Run the Jewels single, and a clear visual identity and brand, the Black Panther trailer debuted during Game 4 of the 2017 NBA Finals, to great success.

This was the perfect first step from a marketing perspective, launching a surprise trailer reveal to a large audience in an unexpected venue and fresh way. This not only created “hype” and excitement among comic book movie fans, but also engaged Black Panther’s key demographic.

While the Black Panther movie has amassed a popular following in the wake of its release, the marketing behind the film started with a specific vision and spoke to the culture and people for which it was intended.

Some of you may be wondering, what is a key audience segment and how do I define one? First, you’ll want to start by pulling your analytics from your social sites, website, and email marketing. Depending on what kind of software or platforms you use to manage your marketing efforts (i.e. MailChimp, HubSpot, ActiveCampaign, etc.) you have very powerful reporting capabilities at your fingertips. At the very least, you can pull Google analytics for your website.

These reports will give you insight into basic user behavior and information: who, what, when and where. In other words, who is visiting your social sites and website, which contacts are opening your emails from your campaigns, what days/times are people most active and engaged, what channels are they coming from (i.e. organic search? Direct? Facebook?), and from which geographic locations?

You can filter your reports to develop a better understanding of who your users are and how you will target them throughout your campaigns. This is a great starting point to develop one or several audience segments that you’ll want to target throughout the year.

For example, if after pulling data from my analytics reporting, I notice that I have a large number of users that are women, aged 35-45 from Houston, Texas who are most engaged on Tuesdays at 12pm, then I can develop campaigns that will target this audience, with the goal of turning them into paying clients or customers.

In short, when developing your key audience segments, you’ll want to choose specific demographics to target. According to Manda Porta, writer for INC. Magazine, you’ll want to consider, who has a need for my product or service? Who is most likely to buy? Think about the following factors:

  • Age
  • Location
  • Gender
  • Income level
  • Education level
  • Marital or family status
  • Occupation
  • Ethnic background

During this process, you’ll also want to consider the psychographics of your target. Think of Psychographics as personal characteristics, including:

  • Personality
  • Attitudes
  • Values
  • Interests/hobbies
  • Lifestyles
  • Behavior

To access this information, I recommend being active on social media and engaging with your audience. Don’t just simply post and promote content. Ask your audience questions, invite dialogue through the comments sections, or reach out to individuals personally to follow up and get feedback.

Social media can be a powerful tool to collect and assess the characteristics of your target audience if you’re willing to put the time into engaging. You can also outsource this task to a creative agency to help you.

While understanding your key audience segment is the first step in delivering a successful marketing campaign, next is giving your campaign credibility by aligning and connecting yourself with established leaders and influencers.

Although there were numerous grassroots and organic campaigns leading up to the Black Panther movie release, I’m going to focus on the final marketing tie-in that made a huge impression: the Black Panther soundtrack.

Black Panther: The Album – Music from and Inspired By, was released on February 9th and was produced by Kendrick Lamar, with collaborations from multiple artists including Top Dawg Entertainment artists (SZA, Schoolboy Q, Jay Rock, just to name a few). This album features incredible arrangements of original songs in Black Panther, and was inspired by viewings of the film.

While the story of Kendrick Lamar’s involvement is becoming something of a legend, his connection to the film and the credibility it has lent as a result, cannot be emphasized enough.

For those of you not familiar with the music of Kendrick Lamar, here are a few stats to showcase his reach and popularity:

Lamar has won 81 awards from 186 nominations, including 12 Grammy Awards and the ASCAP Vanguard Award for his work as a composer. Understandably, with Lamar’s involvement on the Black Panther soundtrack, this gave the movie credibility that the film may not have otherwise achieved on its own.

The soundtrack also created a cultural conversation, with the involvement of South African artists, whose production and contributions give the soundtrack real cultural insight and credence. This is a huge part of marketing to your key audience segment, because once you identify who you’ll be targeting, connecting with leaders and influencers in that audience’s community is easier to do.

To incorporate this technique into your strategy, identify social media influencers and other stand-out professionals that your key audience regularly interacts with, and seek to partner with them to increase your digital presence, and talk to your audience in a more creative way.

Once you've identified a list of key influencers, try to schedule interviews with them to showcase their expertise on your blog or on your social media. You can also give influencers shout-outs on your social, or create how-to guides with your influencers' expertise/advice. In published content, you can make comparisons to yourself and your influencers that highlight your likeness (as long as it’s genuine).

Aligning yourself with powerful influencers and featuring content that potential customers are already engaging with, will help you create more visibility for your brand. Especially in cases where your influencers agree to promote content that you've produced, like an interview for example, you will now have access to their fan base. If your featured influencer has 500K followers across the various social channels, you've just increased your reach to new customers exponentially.

For examples of how to do this, check out our Influencer Blog post with digital media pioneer, Shama Hyder and our recent blog post on creating a lasting brand.

If you’ve enjoyed these tips, tune in for Part 2 of this post, where we explore the last two fail-proof marketing techniques executed by Marvel, to launch one of the most successful movies in cinematic history.

If you're looking to launch a successful marketing strategy for your company and would like some help, you're in the right place. Contact June Moore, Director of Growth at to schedule your free consultation. As a creative agency, we act as trusted partners for companies just like yours, to bring your branding and marketing to life everyday.

Post Credit:
This was a collaborative writing piece produced by Max Rawls, Digital Marketing Lead and June Moore, Director of Growth. Images curated by June Moore.

Image Sources:
Mark Fresch - Reddit/Instagram
Los Angeles Daily Times - Children at the Movies
Essence - Black Panther Leading Ladies
Sporting News - NBA Finals Game 4
Lean Labs - HubSpot Dashboard Image
Unsplash - Women by Edward Cisneros 
Unsplash - Man at Computer on Phone by John Mee 
Consequence of Sound - Kendrick Lamar - Black Panther Soundtrack
iTunes: Sjava - African Musician featured on Black Panther Soundtrack

Working with clients ranging from non-profit and government, to industrial and enterprise computing, Max loves seeing companies grow and giving them a platform to tell their story. He also enjoys long walks on the beach and hanging out with his wife and cats.

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