In the past 5 years, super-heroes have taken over television programming. What started as a small handful of comic-book-inspired shows has transformed into over 35. As Fox was gearing up to introduce comic fans to the Gifted, an X-Men inspired drama, the marketing team asked ourselves one key question. How do we stand out in this crowded competitive landscape, especially to the eagle-eyed fanbase at Comic Con?
We started by paying deep respect to the mythology of the X-Men. After immersing ourselves in the franchise, we discovered two of the most iconic words in Marvel history – "Sentinels" and "Mutants". Reflecting the storyline in the Gifted, our campaign deep-dived into the war between the two factions.
First, we modeled the Sentinels after a slick, glossy, highly-funded government program designed to "test" unsuspecting citizens for DNA mutations.
While their messaging felt like innocent public service announcements to non-comic-fans, those familiar with the X-Men immediately picked up on their dark undertones.
Then, we positioned the Mutants as raw, underground, bad-ass social justice warriors.
Unable to fund massive advertisements, they took to defacing Sentinel Service ads in order to warn users of getting tested.
This core message spread itself across all our marketing materials.
Sentinel Services hosted an X-Gene Screening Station at the Hilton Bayfront Lawn where Comic-Con attendees can be tested for the X-Gene. At the station, each person will be laser-scanned and then complete a cheek swab genetic test with a nurse. Six weeks after testing, fans will get additional information about their personal genetic profile online.
Sentinel Services also boasted a strong physical presence in downtown San Diego, with massive PSA's on wallscapes and wrapped trolleys. Then Sentinel Services then turned their attention to the digital and social space launching wanted posters, PSAs, and an in-depth Sentinel Services website.
In response to the overwhelming Sentinel Service presence, #MutantsUnite, a corresponding social activation was launched designed to ignite the resistance movement with hacks of the PSAs across social media, hidden geo-fenced filters, and a first of its kind Facebook AR experience [that saw Facebook opening up its still-in-beta camera platform to a television partner for the first time].
Fans loved the campaign's immersive storytelling and attention to detail. Collectively, the impact of our digital and physical marketing campaign was profound. #MutantsUnite tallied 33 million impressions during Comic Con weekend. We were extremely proud to see all the #MutantsUnite in San Diego and around the world.