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Deadpool Syndrome

Travis Brock
Director of Business Development

This blog uses examples from Deadpool and touches on similar adult themes. If you are uncomfortable with such topics, please do not continue reading!

The hype over Deadpool has settled a bit since it was released in February. As many know, it was a bit of risk for the studios to take this project on. After years of discussion and a leak of the test footage, the project was given the green light. Just take a look at the unique opening credits (and for those who have seen the movie, this is about the most PG clip available).

Every once and awhile there is a unique concept that breaks the mold. Everyone loves it and it gains notoriety and success. Those in the business tend to want to copy the concept and ride the coattails for hopes of similar success. Shiny object syndrome strikes again! Deadpool provides a necessary reminder that not all shiny should be chased.

What happened after Deadpool became the highest grossing R-rated super hero film of all time is expected amongst movie makers, and is also one of education marketings most often discussed tactics. That, of course, is shiny object syndrome. Others began to talk about making other R-rated superhero movies. So far Batman vs. Superman released an R-rated extended cut, an R-rated Wolverine movie is underway, and an R-rated X-Force is being considered. Even the directors of Ant-Man and The Wasp and Guardians of the Galaxy had a little fun with the shiny object in the industry.

All the movie possibilities sounds great, right? Wrong! As we all know, what works for one, may not work for the other. For example, Superman is often considered a justice handling alien and mild-mannered reporter who often chooses the light side of humanity. In Man of Steel Superman’s brand, in my perception, was tarnished a bit when he killed the villain. In other renditions Superman often chooses to place the villain in jail, while rarely choosing to kill someone. This darker portrayal in Batman vs. Superman also was heavily influenced by the Dark Knight Returns, a very dark movie itself.  The values and reputation of Superman is muddied.

The next reason why chasing the shiny object won’t help; the original shiny object is often referenced and remembered when it is copied, not the copycat. The copying brand does more favors for the original brand then it does for itself. See all the links to articles linked to above regarding the R-rated movies. When the articles discuss about upcoming movies like Batman vs. Superman, Wolverine, and X-Force, they all reference Deadpool in some form. When audiences watch the films, they will see connective similarities. The copycats are adding to Deadpool’s fire.

While chasing the shiny object may be good in the short run, it can cause some long-term brand damage. People won’t remember your brand, they will remember the original unique brand concept and they may remember your brand trying to copy it. You’re making your brand a derivative of someone else’s brand. Similarly, there is an abundance of marketing materials out there and copied messages add to the unnecessary clutter.

Lastly, shiny objects distract time, resources, and money away from the a brand’s primary strategy. While they are cool, the latest trend, etc. and there may be a kneejerk reaction to imitate these shiny object, but trying to copy them takes away from another brand. Stick to your brand’s strategy!

If you find yourself and those around you chasing a shiny object, stop yourself and ask:

  1. does this fit our brand?
  2. can we use the success of the shiny object and make it our own that fits our brand and still be considered unique?

If “no” is the answer to both these questions, don’t waste your time on it.

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