Word-of-Mouth and Referral Marketing Blog

How Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. Got 12 Million Views

Everyone’s watched The Avengers. And Age of Ultron. And Civil War. (I haven’t – no spoilers, please!)

Away from the big screen, the TV series Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. has also been wildly successful, with an average score of 93% on RottenTomatoes.

But did you know that the show was born in part because of the power of the crowds?

After Marvel killed off Agent Coulson in The Avengers, a dedicated faction made T-shirts and graffiti declaring “Coulson Lives”.

The strong audience outcry eventually was a reason for Marvel to resurrect the character and give him his own show!

Agent Coulson Lives

The fandom put posts on posts. That’s dedication.

One part of the show’s success straight from the start – it racked up 12 million views on its Season 1 premiere – was the extensive use of word-of mouth marketing. How did they do it?

1. They put Age-of-Ultron in the spotlight of social media, using both the cast and the fans to generate content

The show’s developers recognized the power of social media. When the cast took to Twitter to livetweet, they got the fanbase talking, tapping into free word-of-mouth marketing.

The producers got the fanbase to spread the message by launching an in-universe conspiracy blog We Are The Rising Tide, with videos and photos that revealed tantalising tidbits about the new series.

Somehow, a “conspiracy blog” urging you to “spread the word” by retweeting is remarkably immersive. Naturally, speculation and fan theories ran wild, winning the series free publicity before it even begun.

In a smart move, We Are The Rising Tide co-opted the use of Twitter hashtags. A #CoulsonLives Twitter campaign was launched -the hashtag had to have a certain amount of tweets in order to unlock a three-minute trailer. 

The word spread faster than a conspiracy theory, thanks to word-of-mouth marketing. The fans hit the required amount of tweets, unlocking the trailer and a new wave of publicity.

2. Leading a detailed, immersive campaign allowed for the series to have sustained attention

The point of word-of-mouth marketing is to make people talk about your message with their friends, all the time. One way to help that is to create an immersive experience.

The viral campaign was accompanied by the release of supporting documents such as ID cards and videos. These helped to make the campaign a lot more relatable to the average person.

agent coulson id card agent of shield

Did it work?

The viral marketing campaign created such a huge sensation and was an important part in the myth of the series. Even after two seasons, the third season opened with favourable ratings.

Your message might not be a new TV series, but a small investment in immersive advertising goes a long way. Through a combination of word-of-mouth marketing and compelling stories, you get a lot more reach for your advertising dollar.

So, If you want to get your story told, you don’t have to just rely on expensive, traditional marketing. All you got to do is:

  • Rely on social media and word-of-mouth. Don’t underestimate the power of your customer base!
  • Create engaging stories. They keep your message on people’s minds and in people’s conversations!

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Read next: How You Can Replicate Star Wars’ $7 Billion Marketing Success

Benjamin Leong

Benjamin is a current undergraduate majoring in politics, philosophy and economics. In his spare time he debates, coaches debaters, and wonders how to survive a nuclear war.

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