Marvel’s Captain America: Civil War Instagram Campaign, One of the Best of All-Time

Updated: Apr 4, 2020

Blog Author: Michael Queenan

Marvel utilized Instagram to promote the release of its Captain America: Civil War movie released in 2016. This campaign was very successful as it was unique, creating and engaging for Marvel fans.


Marvel is an American media franchise that creates and produces many popular superhero films that are based on characters featured in comic books produced by Marvel Comics. Marvel has a portfolio that includes over 9,000 characters, making the company the undeniable leader of the comic industry. Marvel Entertainment prides itself on its marketing abilities. Through its creative staff, tools, and experience, the company always aims to take its consumers to a whole new world. Additionally, Marvel recognizes the constantly changing world of the media landscape and it prides itself as a company in finding and creating new ways to share and promote its various comics, movies and other products. The company utilizes customs, print, and digital media to share messages with its consumers.

In 2016, when it came time to promote its new film, Captain America: Civil War, Marvel Entertainment decided to utilize Instagram to drive the film’s campaign. This campaign is widely viewed as one of the best Instagram campaigns of all time and was met with much success, as Captain America: Civil War went on to be the second highest-grossing film in 2016.


What Was the Campaign? How was it Successful?

Marvel did not solely use Instagram and social media to promote its 2016 release of Captain America: Civil War, but its uniqueness and the viral engagements that it created amongst fans are what drove the promotion of the movie. The Instagram campaign involved Marvel hiring ten different professional graffiti artists. These artists were instructed to paint the film’s pivotal and iconic airport fight scene on the side of a building. Marvel documented this whole process and used the footage that it gathered to create a time-lapse that was ultimately posted on Instagram.

This Instagram campaign was successful for several reasons. First, it was a more creative way to promote a movie as opposed to a traditional television or billboard advertisement. Next, Marvel made sure to create a hashtag that was catered to the post. By creating and using the hashtag: #CaptainAmericaGraffitiWar, it allowed consumers to create their own posts that could be shared with others under this hashtag. Also, a video time-lapse is a piece of content that fits the Instagram platform perfectly. It is a piece of visual content that easily captures the eyes of consumers when scrolling through their feed. Additionally, it does not include any audio, so consumers could watch the video in public and focus more on the content that was being displayed. Finally, and most importantly, since the graffiti mural was physically painted on a building, the campaign had a longer lifespan than traditional Instagram campaigns. This is because people who are walking or driving by may see the mural and may decide to see what it is about. For people who were not a fan of Marvel but passed the mural, they may have been intrigued to see the movie due to their experience. Furthermore, people who originally saw the mural on Instagram may have been motivated to go to the actual location of the mural, take pictures, and post them, further promoting the movie and engaging with more people.


Why was Social Media Essential for this Campaign?

Social media was essential for this campaign for several reasons. First, Marvel attributes its marketing successes to its social media activity. The company views content marketing as its most valuable promotional tool in today’s world. For the Captain America: Civil War movie campaign specifically, Marvel utilized the graffiti artists to create a new and alluring form of content for its consumers. The “Graffiti War” campaign successfully attracted two different types of market segments. First, consumers who already follow Marvel on Instagram. Second, everyday people who passed the mural and decided to research more about the film due to their contact with the billboard. For both market segments, the campaign attracted audiences and ultimately maintained enough curiosity around the movie to produce great box office results.

What This Means for You

What this means for consumers is that other companies along with Marvel may start to utilize more social media campaigns that also have a complementary real-world piece as well. Campaigns that include things such as Marvel’s “Graffiti War” mural do a great job of capturing the attention of consumers from two segments. Also, it provides more opportunities for engagement as by seeing something such as the mural on Instagram, it may motivate consumers to venture to the actual location and interact with other fans in anticipation of the release date.


Which Social Media Network could be Added to the Campaign?

To conclude, Marvel Entertainment is a company that takes full advantage of the opportunities provided by content and digital marketing. It excels at creating all types of content to share on various social media platforms. The “Graffiti War” campaign was one of the many successful social media campaigns created by Marvel, as Captain America: Civil War earned $180 million in its opening weekend, which was the fifth-best opening box office weekend ever in U.S. box office history at the time (McNary). Despite this staggering number, other social media networks could have been added to this campaign. For example, Marvel could have utilized YouTube in order to post teaser videos and additional previews online for fans. This would have created even more buzz around the film as fans could share their predictions amongst each other online which would cause more people to view the trailers. Overall, Marvel does a great job of using digital marketing to promote its upcoming films and is a great company for any business to follow and track.

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