As Gal Gadot’s heroic Wonder Woman burst onto the big screen on June 2nd, she soared at the box office bringing in a global opening weekend total of $223M, setting a record for highest debut for a female director, Patty Jenkins.  The critically acclaimed fourth installment of Warner Bros.’ DC Extended Universe is predicted to earn somewhere in the vicinity of $500M by close of the second week. Without a doubt, Wonder Woman is the biggest female led superhero film ever. 

Despite all of this glory, just six weeks ago, the Twittersphere was buzzing with claims that Warner Bros. was neglecting to adequately promote Wonder Woman.  Shana O’Neil at Blastr made comparisons between the film’s marketing efforts and those of other Warner Brother’s superhero releases like Suicide Squad, Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice and Man of Steel, fearing that perhaps WB wasn’t even trying because of this film’s female lead or its perceived millennial female audience.  Ironically, within the same piece, O’Neil also proclaimed that she was “ready to snap” at the sheer volume of advertising she had seen for Warner Bros./DC blockbuster films within the past five years.  

It’s for this exact reason that WB presumably made a very smart, very deliberate shift in the way that it promoted Wonder Woman.

Social Social & More Social 

Digital and social were the cornerstones of Wonder Woman’s promotion, and for obvious reasons.  Millennials aren’t watching content like we used to – unsurprisingly, the latest numbers from Nielsen show that our TV viewership is down over 5 percent year on year. Who needs network television to tell you what’s must-see tv when you’ve got all the Netflix, Hulu & Amazon Prime you could ever want right at your fingertips?  While WB flooded television with trailers for Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice and Suicide Squad across the board, they took a more targeted approach with Wonder Woman in the lead up to the release, engaging with their target consumers in places they’re more likely to be.  

Of course, there were some carefully curated partnerships across various verticals, along with interactive activations at SXSW in conjunction with Google, allowing consumers engage 1-1 with the brand.  WB debuted a trailer at the MTV Music & TV awards and generated a promo spot starring Supergirl Melissa Benoist, Lois & Clark’s Teri Hatcher and the original Wonder Woman herself, Lynda Carter. That said, WB really dug deep on the social front, and it paid off. 

Warner was one of the first studios to leverage Facebook’s new camera mask, with an augmented reality Wonder Woman Tiara.  In a world full of puppy dog and flower crown filters, this move was right on the mark. Wonder woman herself, Gal Gadot, shared the filter across her own social channels earning a massive 3.5M views.  In addition, in the lead up to opening day, five exclusive Snapchat filters were available, showcasing various props from the film; and lastly a 16 bit game (nostalgia alert) was released on Snapchat.  By encouraging consumers to share their own Wonder Woman content across social, Warner Bros. tapped into the power of word of mouth marketing and generated mass reach as a result.

Gadot consistently provided fans with glimpses into the making of the film across her impressive social presence on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter, showing how her iconic boots were made and the grueling special effects makeup required for some cast members, as well as promoting perfectly aligned promotions of female empowerment messaging, such as #SheIsWonderWoman on Mother’s Day.  Gadot’s social presence fueled much of the film’s authentic and engaging social conversation.  

A Real Wonder Woman’s Influence 

The publicity for Wonder Woman has clearly been focused on Gadot – she has been at the center of the film’s campaign. Along with the typical interview circuits with magazines and late shows, Gadot has driven strong engagement with consumers via her own social channels.  We’ve seen this recently with the likes of Deadpool’s Ryan Reynolds and Logan’s Hugh Jackman, but Gadot’s own promotion of not only the film, but also everything that the idea of “wonder woman” stands for has been almost as loud as the rest of the WB campaign.  With such an incredible female empowerment message (especially in today’s climate), Gadot has managed to add authenticity and personality to such an important topic, without feeling like a grab for viewers.  Quoted by Variety as saying that as a child she always looked up to Batman and Superman, Gadot said,“I think that it’s so important that we also have strong female figures to look up to, and Wonder Woman is an amazing one.” 

It’s this strategy that has helped Wonder Woman do what few other recent reel-life superheros have: completely capture the millennial audience (and the females to boot).  According to real-time audience data company, Taykey’s recent report, the pre-release chatter surrounding Wonder Woman showed that the tough to engage 25-44 age demographic were driving the majority of conversation, with 46 percent of chatter from women.  In addition, a staggering 81 percent of pre-release conversation was positive – the film’s pre-release campaigns clearly connected with the right consumers, in the most relevant places, with highly engaging and authentic content.

The Power of the People   

At Social Media Week LA, Matt Britton, author of Youth Nation and millennial marketing expert, stated, “Brands are people, and people are brands.” In this case, Gadot is as much a brand as the film Wonder Woman, and the film is as much a persona as Gadot.  They are one and the same, almost indistinguishable in this film’s promotional campaign – and it is undisputedly powerful.

With almost 20M combined social followers, Gadot clearly has social reach, but it’s not  just about the follower count, it’s about the ability to drive business impact.   ComScore/Screen Engine PostTrack survey found that 31 percent of consumers surveyed attended a Wonder Woman screening because of its lead – Gadot’s ability to influence is clear.

Whether looking at Gadot, or the queens of reality, the Kardashians, or your favorite sporting superstar, these influencers have true power – especially amongst Millennials.   With a fifth of media consumption today being influencer content, and 69 percent of millennials stating they’ve made a purchase decision after a recommendation from an influencer, it makes sense for brands to align with people to tell their brand story.  The notion of people being distribution channels (over networks or publishers) is something we’re going to continue seeing more and more brands embrace. Kudos to Warner Bros. for leveraging their very own heroine Gal Gadot in the way that they did.  With millennial women driving positive conversation across social and a global total of $500M at the box office (and rising), it looks like they’re headed in the right direction.