Morbius: How Too Much Advertising Can Destroy Your Campaign
Morbius has finally released nearly two years after it's original announcement. Through constant marketing bombardment and poor communication, it turned fans from excited and curious to annoyed and bored. But how?
Morbius, the latest in Sony’s Marvel lineup, has shaken up social media over the last few weeks and months, and for some even years. It’s hard to believe that this movie was originally intended to release all the way back in July of 2020, being delayed due to the pandemic. From that point on, it suffered delay after delay after delay, seeing (wait for it) six release dates in total, spread across the last two years. Over that time, audiences across social media endured countless advertising and marketing campaigns, each one hyping up the film's release before being closed down due to each delay. This effectively meant the film has had six to seven individual marketing cycles, each one becoming more and more confusing and convoluted as fans began sitting in anticipation of a delay rather than the movie itself.
All of this has led to now, April 2022. Morbius, the so-called ‘Marvel Legend’ (Sony’s words, not mine) has finally hit theatres across the world. And, as someone who decided to see it after being lambasted with advertising for close to two years now, I can confidently say…
It’s not good. Who would've guessed?
But this isn’t a review of the movie. Instead, I wanted to take some time to talk about how it’s perfectly possible to market your movie or product too much. To push something with an already middling interest from audiences and fans alike to the point of annoyance, mixed in with a misunderstanding of who or what you are actually marketing in the first place.
First of all, who is Morbius? That’s a good question, because even after two years of being told that a movie about him is releasing, I still know practically nothing about him. This, in my opinion, is the first misstep this film made in marketing itself. Recent advertisements have addressed him as a ‘Marvel Legend’, and yet in nearly every comments section beneath one of these videos you’ll find a plethora of users in utter confusion. Someone behind the scenes made the poor assumption that this character was on somewhat the same level as someone like Spider-Man or Captain America, and that the name alone would be enough to sell audiences. When bringing a relatively unknown and new face onto the big screen, it’s important to take a marketing approach that fills in the knowledge gaps of those you want to see your film. Perhaps a trailer that details some origins of the character? Perhaps some creative social media content that engages fans with fun-fact type posts, getting users to interact with the character and who they are before they turn up to a cinema? In the current age of the internet, there are countless ways to educate and inform your audience without it being annoying and in-your-face, and this isn’t something I believe this movie's marketing took into account.
Another factor that has contributed heavily to the disinterest from audiences has been the incredibly long and drawn out marketing the movie has received. Whilst the pandemic was unavoidable and not at all predictable, the sheer amount of delays this film got was hard to keep up with. Alongside this was a marketing team that continued to push forward new advertising content before each new delay, which reached a point where many were more amused by when the next delay would come as opposed to actually seeing or even caring about the movie. Obviously, delays are out of the marketers control, and a large amount of this situation came down to poor timing and higher-up executives having plans of their own (whatever they might be), but the almost incessant nature of this films advertising became a chore to watch after a certain point. It also didn’t help that many of the trailers and advertising content posted for months at a time was almost identical, leading many on sites like TikTok, where these videos were the most common, to simply poke fun at them.
Now, after receiving incredibly poor reviews, the movie is all but poised as one big joke by Marvel fans. Many have taken to social media platforms to sarcastically discuss how ‘groundbreaking’ and ‘amazing’ Morbius is, creating hashtags such as #MorbiusSweep in an effort to poke fun at how many theatres showing the film are entirely empty.
There was once a fair level of excitement and curiosity from Marvel fans for Morbius upon its initial reveal in 2020. However, after an unfortunate and poorly handled marketing campaign (or should I say several of them), alongside the general fact that the film is simply not very good, Morbius will forever remain a memento to PR and marketing divisions everywhere: too much can do an equal amount of harm as too little.