In the last several years, I’ve noticed a trend that is starting to wear on me. It’s the practice of advertising movies during the commercials of other products.

Last year, during the build up to Man of Steel, I must have seen 20 or 30 commercials that tied in to that upcoming Superman movie. That included fast-food restaurants, trucks and food items, just to name a few. That didn’t count the commercials for the movie itself as well as toy and book ads based on the film as well.

Well, now that Captain America: The Winter Soldier isn’t far off, I’m noticing the same thing happening with the commercials this year.

But even more than that, I’m seeing advertisements for Amazing Spider-Man 2 already. I expect soon to see an hour of TV in which every single commercial is tied to a comics-related movie out this summer.

WHERE ARE WE NOW?

Spider-Man, Superman, Captain America, commercials, USPS, San Diego Comic-Con, Star TrekIt’s been a slow progression of this happening. I remember not very many years ago when I was excited just to see an ad for a “comic-book film” during a favorite show. Since I TiVo, I had to rewind so I could see that commercial.

Those were the days!

My problem has to do with, what does the product has to do with the movie?

For instance, recently there has been a candy commercial in which red strips unite to form the Starship Enterprise from Star Trek (which comes out in comics form from IDW these days). What does candy have to do with spaceships? Now, I DO get the ad in which Spock and Scotty beam into a tech center, though!

Have I purchased any of that candy since the ad aired? No, not a bit. I admit, it was a cool ad, but the point of advertisements is to get people like me and other viewers to buy their products.

I just saw a commercial the other day with Spider-Man swinging through New York City delivering mail for the U.S. Post Office. Let me tell you, if a postal worker came to my mailbox dressed as Spider-Man, even I as a comics fan would wonder about the person wearing it.

DOES THIS KIND OF THING WORK?

As much as I admit it doesn’t always sell the product involved, it simply must work enough for the companies to want to invest the money to hitch their ads to at least one of the recent fast-moving movie trains. If they can get at least some of us fans to use their services or buy their stuff, it will likely be worth the money.

My biggest problem with this kind of product placement is that I may watch Spidey swing with USPS boxes, but when it’s over, do I use the USPS more than usual? Nope.

As a former co-worker used to tell me when I complained about animated shows being too stupid, “It’s not made for you!” Well, I guess that’s becoming more and more true as time goes along since I actually THINK about what I’m watching.

I’m sure the companies making the comics-related films hope these ads actually increase the awareness and attendance for their movies. Sell the products? Probably not so much!

GET READY FOR A BIG COMICS-RELATED MOVIE AD SUMMER

There was a friend of mine who used to record anything and everything about comics that appeared on his TV. A while back, I bumped into him and asked if he still did that. He told me that if he was still keeping all those shows and commercials, he’d need about five more computers to store them on!

I do think that this is a good thing in that each commercial with a hero on it, be it Superman, Captain America or Spider-Man, just might encourage someone to either try out or get back into comics.

I always like to point out that AMC’s The Walking Dead increases foot traffic in many comics shops since people who may not have read the book want to at least pick up the first trade. I know at least a few store owners who can’t keep Dead TPBs in stock! Hey, every episode is an hour-long commercial for the comic!

Since I consider that the case, I’ll be fine with lots of commercials with comics characters in them this summer. But I’m reminded of the year I got to attend the San Diego Comic-Con. After three days of seeing a town full of people in costumes (especially those who shouldn’t be wearing them, honestly), even I started to long for “real life” back home.

It’s kind of like political commercials. Even I would rather watch “The Heartbreak of Psoriasis” eventually.

The Author

Wayne Hall

Wayne Hall

Wayne Hall creates the Wayne's Comics Podcast. He’s interviewed Scott Snyder, Greg Capullo, John Layman, Kyle Higgins, Phil Hester, Jimmy Palmiotti & Justin Gray, David Petersen, Christos Gage, Mike Grell, and Matt Kindt. Each episode also includes reviews, news and previews. On this site each week, he writes his "Comics Portal" column (general comics comments and previews) and reviews comics.

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2 Comments

  1. March 25, 2014 at 10:44 am — Reply

    Apparently I’m not the target audience for these commercials either. I never buy the products and often wonder why Superheros / Genre Characters are involved with these products in the first place.

    I honestly wonder sometimes about movie advertising in general when it comes to comic book movies. This years Spider-Man movie is being advertised to death. All that money they are spending on advertising seems to be excessive. Do these commercials really draw in that many more movie-goers? Sure you want to get the word out that the movie is coming… especially for opening weekend… but I feel like I see something Spider-Man related every time I move my head.

    • March 25, 2014 at 11:38 am — Reply

      Often the cost of advertising is the same or higher than the actual budget for the movie. One thing I have noticed is “over advertising” or trying really hard to get you to see the movie is often a sign of a movie that isn’t that good and the hype is designed to bring as many people in on the opening weekend as possible to get the most money possible.

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