To promote Ant-Man, probably their weirdest release to date, Marvel Studios has dropped the requisite slick trailers and engaged in all manner of Internet-friendly publicity stuntage. This is not an unusual strategy, but the cleverness quotient has been unusually high. The studio seems to have quickly mastered walking the fine line between joke and gimmick.
In January, Marvel released a tiny teaser clip for the movie, featuring an ant-sized shrunken image of portions of the teaser trailer that dropped a few days later.
After that, micro billboards with battery-powered LEDs began popping up in random public places to apparently promote the movie for ant-sized audiences. Users in Brisbane, Melbourne, and Queensland, Australia took to Reddit with photos of the tiny displays — as Marvel was no doubt hoping they would — and the images spread across the Internet from there.
The latest publicity stunt has been performed before, but Marvel still deserves props for sticking the landing. Early this month a Twitter account and promo for a fictional news network called WHIH popped up online. The promo features fictional anchor Christine Everhart, who Marvel fans will recognize from her tryst with Tony Stark in the Iron-Man movies, mentioning a news bit about the latest fallout from the Avengers’ battle in Sokovia and revisiting a story about Scott Lang. The old photo of Paul Rudd is a great touch.
The entire minute-long segment went up yesterday, as did a sponsored post on Mashable that will almost certainly confuse readers. The post provides some backstory for the plot of the movie. Apparently, Lang went to prison for allegedly stealing $4 million from his employer, VistaCorp, and will get out of lockup on July 17. That’s the release date for anyone keeping track.
All the viral fuss is a great move by Marvel, and it comes at a time after their others movies made gajillions of dollars at the box office, which means they’re in the enviable position of being free to try out as much weird stuff as they want.