The fruits of Disney’s industry-raised $100 million+ promotional partnership campaign on Black Panther: Wakanda Forever were produced, not only in a US/Canadian box office opening record of $181.3 million and 12.7 million admissions, but by stoking a wide range of demographics, including black women , Latinos/Hispanics and older people hit theaters in droves this past weekend.
The media value of the sequel’s range of promotional partners, I hear, is double that of the first. Black Panther and the same value as last year Eternals.
wakanda forever drew 43% black and 22% Latino and Hispanic audiences, per PostTrak, which combined at 65% is higher than the first film’s respective demos of 2018, which had a 58% turnout. Even more amazing, this time around women over 25 made up the biggest crowd for wakanda forever at 32%, giving the Ryan Coogler-directed sequel its highest viewership rating at 97%.
Given the female independence and STEM themes in the MCU title, Disney’s Global Partnership Strategy and Marketing Group pursued these demos and more head-on with a range of top-notch advertisers such as Lexus, Adidas , Target, Procter & Gamble, Mastercard, Mac Cosmetics, the NBA, McDonald’s, Xbox and Sprite Zero; these brands are a mix of recurring partners and new partners for the Mouse House.
The anomaly in this promotional partnership campaign is the rapprochement between Lexus and Adidas. Rarely, if ever, have two promotional partners teamed up for a commercial synced with a major movie. Traditionally, major merchandise companies have their own bespoke messages they want to convey to consumers as part of co-branding with a major Marvel movie.
While Lexus had its own separate commercial, directed by Lexus/Marvel spot director Anthony Leonardi III (previous Lexus-Marvel spots include the Kumail Nanjiani “Parking Spot” commercial for Eternals), highlighting its electric 2023 Lexus RZ 450e featuring Wakanda‘s Dora Milaje and her General Okoye (Danai Gurira), there was another.
Adidas teamed up with Lexus to design the interior of a Lexus LC 500 Convertible, with Kansas City Chiefs wide receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster rolling in it. For the world’s first, Lexus and the Adidas School for Experiential Education in Design have teamed up with Carbon and influential virtual car designer Jon Sibal to concoct another custom vehicle, the Lexus RX 500h Hybrid.
“It was genuine for these brands to connect, and because of what the film stood for: bringing people together and inclusiveness,” said Mindy Hamilton, SVP Global Partnership Marketing & Strategy at Disney. “Everyone saw an opportunity to work together to celebrate even further and make the movie even bigger. And it gave fans more ways to celebrate.
wakanda forever represented the third team with Marvel Studios, Lexus having made an appearance in the original Black Panther in a chase scene on Busan Street. In part 2, the Lexus LC 500 convertible and the Lexus GX also have cameos.
“Lexus itself is all about innovation and technology and Wakanda certainly represents that, and so they were a natural and have always been authentically in the DE&I space,” Hamilton said.
Lexus’ collaboration with Marvel Studios and ad creative was led by Walton Isaacson, Lexus’ go-to agency for Black, Hispanic and LGBTQ+ audiences.
Here is the latest Lexus spot, these are MCU shorts in themselves:
Adidas has done even more related to the sequel. The athletic brand has teamed up with wakanda forever costume designer Ruth E. Carter, who won an Oscar for Black Panther, and members of the Adidas School for Experimental Education in Design to create bespoke costumes for the film for characters such as Letitia Wright’s Shuri and Gurira’s Okoye, complete with futuristic footwear inspired by photo technology, as well as sporty designs with transparent materials.
Adidas and Marvel also offered a range of innovative apparel and footwear, spanning tennis, running, soccer and sportswear. There was also Black Panther-themed workouts and fitness challenges offered to Adidas members in key markets via the brand’s Runtastic app. The workout was inspired by action-packed sequences and characters from the pic, infused into a fully immersive Wakanda environment.
Target served an exclusive Wakanda range of merchandise across toys, home, clothing and beauty with everything from pillows and pajamas to the single-target Lego Black Panther: Wakanda Forever Royal Sea Leopard ship. Shoppers were able to get in on the action and explore two immersive augmented reality experiences. In the shops there were wakanda forever signs in the toy department, where consumers could scan the QR code with their smartphone to discover the “Wakandan-inspired” technology. From there, they could watch the construction of the Lego Royal Sea Leopard or interact with one of the Hasbro Titan 3-pack action figures. Target also held more than 130 community screenings of the sequel to support and assist nonprofits in select markets. Target’s partnership with the film aligns with its own REACH (Racial Equity Action Change) commitment to creating meaningful and authentic experiences for Black cast members and guests.
One of Disney’s big signings with its promotional partner ads is luring film talent into key brand ads, and Target played Dominique Thorne’s Riri.
Among other stars starring in brand ads, Wright played a big role in the film’s Xbox promotion, which was involved in appealing to the latest generation of the gaming and STEM industries. Wright has appeared in a series of inspirational videos. In the spirit of Xbox’s branded platform, Power Your Dreams, the console kicked off with a drone presentation narrated by Wright. Additionally, Professor Jacoby DuBose delivered a Wakanda-inspired HBCU lecture from Howard University’s Chadwick A. Boseman College of Fine Arts, where he developed the MakeCode program and participated in a panel of black and white game innovators. of STEM with the entire lecture streamed live on the university’s social channels. Xbox launched Project Amplify, calling on black professionals within Xbox and the gaming industry to share their personal origin stories, tips and lessons to inspire a more equitable STEM space. There were also freebies, including console kits inspired by the iconic “Wakanda Forever” salute and Black Panther hero costume, custom controller stands, which came with replica Kimoyo beads, and custom sterling charms. Budding innovators also got to participate in a new movie-inspired MakeCode program, where users can learn how to write code for their own playable. Black Panther: Wakanda Forever– themed activity.
Mastercard’s efforts with wakanda forever famous small businesses owned by black women. The Photo Credit Card’s support is part of its half-billion-dollar commitment to help close the racial wealth and economic gap in the United States by supporting Black women-owned businesses through the through its Strivers initiative and partnerships with HBCUs and youth groups around the country. Mastercard has also invited small business owners and youth groups to advance screenings of the MCU sequel in New York and Atlanta. It was Disney’s first time partnering with Mastercard.
To complement advertisers attached to the film, longtime Disney promotional partner McDonald’s introduced a Happy Meal line, featuring one of 10 figurines inside. Sprite Zero, which focused on the Gen Z demo, with wakanda forever bottles and cans also served as a QR-enabled AR and digital experience that featured the “origin stories” of three diverse female creators behind the sequel: production designer Hannah Beachler, storyboard artist Jasmine Alexia Jackson, and the sculptor Alicia Diaz.
There was also a first-ever NBA and Disney co-promotion campaign for wakanda forever. Dubbed “NBA Forever,” a promotional mashup video of the photo and on-court performances was released on social media and on ESPN on October 21 and during the October 26 double-header on ESPN. Also 15 NBA teams hosted wakanda forever themed evenings in the stadium.
Among the beauty brands that boarded wakanda forever were the Mac collection, which offered items such as classic lipsticks with Wakandan Sunset shades (cool and shiny fuschia), Dora Milaje (blue-red), Royal Integrity (hot chocolate) and Story of Home (medium neutral with slight pink undertones); lip gloss in Feelin’ It (translucent gold); and Love Me Liquid Lipstick in The Shadows (black), Thicker Than Water (blood red), Show-Off (red-bronze), and Wakanda Forever (shimmery purple).
Procter & Gamble had its limited edition Bevel x Black Panther: Wakanda Forever edition safety razor gift set. P&G hair care brands in conjunction with the film also had My Black Is Beautiful and Gold Series with specialty product packs featuring My Black Is Beautiful’s Golden Milk Collection and Gold Series Core Collection, at Target, Walmart and Kroger. Additionally, MBIB and Gold Series teamed up with Camille Friend, head of the film’s hair department. She worked with brands on media engagement ahead of the film’s release, discussing the power of hair and how it shaped identity as well as styling and care tips. Disney recently worked with P&G on Ms. Marvel and Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness. My Black Is Beautiful was a privileged partner for wakanda forever, because the product was founded by a woman scientist, in line with the STEM themes of the picture.
Said Hamilton about wakanda forever range of promotional partners: “We are able to deliver these very specific, personalized collaborations together, not only working with partners and their agencies to tell stories, but also using our talents as filmmakers. Very few people can replicate that. It’s our secret sauce.