'It was all Peter W.'s idea': Inside the 'Deadpool 2' social media campaign

EP+Co, the firm behind the campaign, talked social strategy--all while staying in character.

LOS ANGELES: When EP+Co worked with 20th Century Fox to promote Deadpool 2 on social media, it put its marketing superpowers behind Peter W. -- and it paid off.

Peter W. is self-aware superhero Deadpool’s newest recruit in Deadpool 2, which opened in theaters on May 18. Unfortunately for him, Peter is a dad-like character with no superpowers whose sidekick qualifications include working as a regional sales manager at Excalibur Cutlery. Nonetheless, he gets the chance to join X-Force, Deadpool’s posse, in the film.

EP+Co created social accounts for Peter, such as a LinkedIn profile and Twitter page. Across social media networks, the campaign garnered 1.3 million followers, 87 million video views, and 31 million engagements across 81 Instagram posts, 156 tweets, and 85 Facebook posts.

However, for some, the social media accounts created for Peter were too realistic, tricking some other users on the platforms.

"On LinkedIn, Peter received countless messages from people reaching out for, and offering, job opportunities as well as questions about his professional experience at Excalibur Cutlery, and even beekeeping (which of course Peter has a passion for)," Scott Voege, EP+Co SVP and group account director, said via email.

Asked who came up with the idea to focus on Peter, Voege stayed in character and gave Peter all the credit.

"Peter knew that if we wanted to connect to non-mutant fans on their level, our campaign needed a powerful ‘everyman’ poster boy with a powerful poster-ready mustache," said Voege. "We agreed."

He added that the firm worked with LinkedIn’s comms team on the profile because Peter is a "big fan" of the platform.

"He knew their team could help get more eyes on his thought-provoking essays about comfort zones and work-life balance," said Voege. "They are wonderful partners and were thoroughly supportive of his campaign."

Asked what will become of his social presence once the campaign ends, Voege just said, "He’ll continue to ‘bee’ active," a reference to the character’s love of the flying insects.

Voege said EP+Co handled "a lot" of the social media posts for Peter.

"It’s difficult for someone in X-Force to maintain a steady social presence, so we worked very closely with him," he said. "Sometimes he’d send a cellphone photo of a tweet on a napkin and we’d have to transcribe and post. Other times it’d be a voice message two minutes long with his next thought piece."

In reality, 15 EP+Co staffers worked on the campaign. The agency was responsible for social strategy, content, and community management for the Deadpool movie social accounts with other partners. The firm also set up Peter’s social accounts.

EP+Co set out to introduce the film in a "very irreverent way," and the comms strategy included "never being mean spirited, always supportive, and energetic, while highlighting Deadpool’s heart and charm," said Voege.

Asked about the budget, Voege said the vast majority of what EP+Co created was for organic and paid posts, while the paid media budget was handled by Fox.

"The challenge with a film property is balancing the brand and voice building with fan engagement all while promoting a film, because at the end of the day we need to bring people into the theater," said Voege.

In its opening weekend, Deadpool 2 earned $125 million in the U.S. and Canada, the second largest R-rated opening ever behind the first Deadpool film's $132.4 million opening in 2016. 

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