Marketing the Minions

Minions may have started out as background players in Despicable Me, but they’ve since taken center stage everywhere I turn.

Minions, Universal Studio’s latest animated feature, was released in July, but the $593 million publicity campaign started far in advance, with advertisements and partnerships beginning during the 2014 Christmas season. Minions now appear on our fruit, bandages, breath mints, and delivery boxes; they have their own Pantone color, their own cereal and a Happy Meal toy that just might utter an expletive. Minions have transcended their original role as an evil sidekick in Despicable Me to not only have their own movie, but their own brand.

Part of the genius behind the promotional push is that in many cases, people want to see the content. Minion-related content is internet gold, and I have witnessed my mother rewinding commercials starring minions to watch them again. The Minions Facebook page pushes out shareable content designed to make users feel like they are on board with a popular meme, not that they are doing Universal’s promotional work.

But how much promotion is too much? While many have fallen in love with minions, the characters have also inspired hatred, with some saying the advertising is too aggressive and the partnerships have gone too far, or they simply do not understand what there is to love about a character that only speaks gibberish. If you search the #minionhate tag on Twitter, you will find a rash of tweets by users proclaiming that minions are ruining their lives and images of minions on fire.

Despite the naysayers, the campaign seems to have paid off – Minions has officially grossed more than $900 million and is expected to surpass $1 billion in the next few weeks as the film is released in Turkey, Greece, and China. This will make Minions the third animated film to ever earn $1 billion, behind Disney’s Frozen and Toy Story 3. Comparatively, both Disney films had more than double the production cost of Minions ($74 million). In this case, it seems that all publicity, even from those posting negatively about the brand, is good publicity.

With the third installment of Despicable Me coming in 2017, it seems that minion madness has no end in sight.

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