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Captain America: Civil War – How Merchandise Marketing Promotes Movies

06 April 2016

Marvel's "Captain America: Civil War" will hit Cinemas soon, but the superhero battle has already begun with a fight between Ant-Man and Hulk over a can of Coca-Cola Mini in an ad that premiered during the Super Bowl. The ad is part of a joint promotion that uses Marvel-themed Coke Mini cans to promote "Captain America: Civil War". The set of six collectible cans features Hulk, Ant-Man, Captain America, Falcon, Iron Man and Black Widow.

The promotion illustrates the high premium advertisers place on movie merchandising. Here are four ways film promoters use merchandising to promote movies.

Soft Drinks, Snacks and Food

As the Marvel Coke Mini promotion shows, successful movie merchandising begins at the concession stand. Moviegoers are a target audience for movie merchandising, so soft drink and snack partnerships are a winning formula. For instance, DC Comics is teaming up with Dr. Pepper to issue a set of "Batman v Superman" collectible cans featuring Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, Lois Lane and Lex Luthor.

From the concession stand, it's a natural progression to snacks and foods sold outside the theater. For instance, Marvel and Kellogg's have joined forces to roll out "Captain America: Civil War" fruit snacks. Meanwhile DC and General Mills are promoting "Batman v Superman" with Batman chocolate strawberry cereal and Superman caramel crunch cereal. Breakfast cereal movie merchandise dates back to the 1940s when Kellogg's cereals sponsored the Superman radio show and spinoff movies and TV show. Warner Communications revived this marketing tactic with great success by teaming up with Ralston to release Batman cereal to promote the 1989 Batman movie.


Kellogg's Superman cereal often came with toys inside the box, and Ralston's 1989 Batman cereal boxes came with plastic Batman banks attached. This goes to show that movie food promotions and toy merchandising overlap. Warner Brothers Consumer Products and DC have formed partnerships with various toy and game manufacturers to promote "Batman v Superman." Mattel is producing "Batman v Superman" action figures, collectible figures, vehicles and playsets. LEGO is making DC construction sets, and Jumbo is featuring games and puzzles.

Movie toy merchandising has been honed to an art by the "Star Wars" franchise, which has sold an estimated $12 billion worth of merchandise since 1977, reports Fortune. In 2015, "Star Wars: The Force Awakens" scored another hit when Sphero's BB-8 robot toy sold out globally within an hour of its release.

School Supplies

School supplies have been another part of successful movie merchandising. Many kids look forward to back-to-school shopping so they can buy "Star Wars" notebooks, folders, pens and stickers. Other film franchises including DC, Marvel, Disney and Harry Potter have also followed the school supply merchandising playbook. For instance, to promote "Avengers: Age of Ultron," Marvel released a backpack designed to look like Captain America's shield. DC kicked off the 2013 school year with a contest offering $600 of back-to-school items for the winner, including DC-themed notebooks and folders, a Batman backpack, a Superman projector pen and a Wonder Woman gel pen set.

Clothes and Accessories

DC's contest also gave away superhero T-shirts and a holographic phone case. T-shirts are the most popular movie clothing items, with both recent and retro shirts being in demand. There are a ton of stores and sites, such as, that sell shirts for movies like "Jurassic Park," "The Big Lebowski," "Frozen" and "Star Wars: The Force Awakens."

Other clothing and accessory items can also be sold. For example, Vans sells themed skate shoes for Disney films such as "101 Dalmatians" and "The Jungle Book." Other popular movie-themed clothing items include hoodies, hats, socks, pajamas and underwear. Popular accessories include watches, bracelets, belts, jewelry, necklaces, wallets and cellphone cases. The latest James Bond movie, "Spectre," partnered with Sony and Omega to promote 007's newest adventure on smartphones and watches.

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