Movie spin-offs or sequels for minor characters are pretty rare. But when Minions The Movie came out in 2015, it minted $1B+ at the box office, which none of the original Despicable Me movies could accomplish. And currently, the Minions franchise is the highest-grossing animated film franchise of all time with a total of a whopping $4.5B. And to top it all off, they’re made on a budget of less than $100M. Whereas the big animation studios spend $200M on average.
So how Illumination & Universal Studios were able to accomplish this phenomenal success?
It’s mainly due to their extensive marketing. To understand the scale, for Minions: The Rise of Gru, the latest movie, they’ve spent $285M on marketing, 3.5 times the money it cost to make the movie itself.
So how good is their marketing strategy? Let’s look at how they utilized every possible marketing channel to drench consumers in Minion Yellow.
They tied up with multiple established brands, retail, and food chains to promote the Minions brand. It helped them in multiple ways.
Licensing fees – Brands actually competed to get the rights to use Minion in their ads and branding, which resulted in upfront fees even before the movies hit theaters. Partners often pay higher fees if the licensing is exclusive.
Co-branding – These partner brands have featured minions in their own ads and promotional material across channels and also in-store. The brands also made minion-branded packaging and goodies.
Amazon switched the packaging boxes to yellow color with minions all over it.
McDonald’s, for example, has a special happy meal with minion toys, and a limited-time menu featuring minions’ names. The McD stores across the world were stuffed with minion branding and images/videos everywhere.
They’ve also partnered with scores of consumer packaged(CPG) goods brands to launch minion branded and packaged products. There are as many as 30+ brands that used minion images/voices and videos to promote their products which in turn gave wider marketing to minions.
Toys & Merchandise
It partnered with famous toy brands – Mattel, Lego, and Funko to produce all kinds of toys and merchandising with minions. They have products ranging from toys and apparel to phone cases, backpacks, key chains, pen drives. And the list is endless.
Unique Outdoor advertising
Billboards and posters are a common promotional means for movies. But for minions, it’s as tacky as it can get. Take a look for yourself.
Minions movies come out once in a few years. So how to keep the brand relevant when there’s no minion movie playing in theaters? They used other forms of media to keep consumers engaged all through the year.
Illumination also released mobile games featuring minions. Gameloft-made Minion Rush has 1B+ downloads across app platforms. It has a few more games that clocked 20M downloads each.
Minions Ride Mayhem, a simulator ride, has been launched in all the Universal Studios theme park locations.
The power of Omni-Channel Marketing
The studios of minions covered all the marketing channels possible to make minions one of the most valuable entertainment IPs of all time, and they did this in just a decade, while big behemoths like Disney, Pixar & Dreamworks took several decades. I left out social media marketing, which too, they’re just too good, like most brands these days.