Spider-Man webs his way back into theaters with Spider-Man: Homecoming on Friday, and to avoid franchise fatigue, Sony Pictures crafted an expansive marketing campaign to get viewers’ Spidey senses tingling.
Outside of the standard slate of trailers, Sony Pictures teamed up with ESPN to release a special promotion centered around the NBA Finals last month. In the ad, Spider-Man, played by actor Tom Holland, received an invitation to a viewing party hosted by Avengers’ member Tony Stark, played by actor Robert Downey Jr. In the NBA ad, Spider-Man runs into Stark’s secretary Happy Hogan, played by director Jon Favreau, NBA greats Magic Johnson and Tim Duncan, famed comic book writer Stan Lee and producer DJ Khaled.
Fans of the web-slinger have been clamoring for him to interact with other Marvel heroes, like Stark. Legal issues forced Sony to use only Spider-Man and his foes in their previous two cinematic incarnations. However, the 2015 deal with Marvel Studios allowed Sony to access the popular Avengers roster.
Sony further highlights Spider-Man’s interaction with other Marvel heroes in the PlayStation exclusive short A Film By Peter Parker. The announcement shows some of the events from last year’s Captain America: Civil War, but from the point of view of the young hero.
For fans wanting to experience being Spider-Man himself, Sony and CreateVR released Spider-Man Homecoming Virtual Reality Experience. The game allows players to suit up, swing around and defeat villains like the Vulture, played in the film by actor Michael Keaton. Sony is releasing the game on PlayStation VR, Oculus Rift, HTC Vive and in select Cinemark theaters.
Sony also announced a partnership with Audi, a brand deal that stretches across several Marvel Studio releases—which previously entailed the Audi R8 V10 Spyder in Iron Man 2 and the Audi R8 in Avengers: Age of Ultron.
The car manufacturer will unveil the new Audi A8 in Spider-Man: Homecoming and will show the new AI traffic jam feature in a scene with Holland and Favreau. The company also released a digital short showing the teenage hero trying to get his driver’s license.
“We tried to find the sweet spot where this character arc might intersect with the Audi brand,” Benny Lawrence, manager of media and branded integration at Audi of America, told AListDaily. “Passing a driver’s test felt like the perfect milestone in a young person’s life.”
Feeling equally driven, Dell will feature the hero in the marketing campaign of their new Inspiron 15 7000 gaming laptop. On the mobile side, Sony and Dell invited fans to try a location-based Spider-Man game in Times Square, New York. Spider-Man Scramble challenges players to get the superhero atop a New York skyscraper in the fastest time.
Spider-Man: Homecoming stunt-double Chris Silcox took the web-slinging shenanigans one step further. In a London photo shoot with Premier magazine, Silcox wore an authentic movie suit, climbed the London BT Tower and Heron Tower and performed flips and acrobatics to help promote the film.
Most fans can’t get their hands on a movie-accurate suit, so Goodwill announced a costume competition on Twitter, challenging fans to build their own custom Spider-Man outfit. While it did not have to shoot webs or climb walls, the suit had to be made with used materials, do-it-yourself style, similar to how the teenage hero created his first costume.
Digital content agency Portal A invited YouTube celebrities to a custom design studio to create their own costumes and promote the contest.
Pizza Hut took to Twitter to announce a tie-in with the movie, which included a cameo in the film for the pie maker, as well as a Spider-Man-themed box for consumers ordering from the chain. The limited-edition packaging aimed at reviving the restaurant’s cheesy bites pizza.
— Pizza Hut (@pizzahut) June 22, 2017
All of the marketing partnerships likely drove Spider-Man to the wall and in need of a caffeine kick, which led him to drop into Starbucks and prank customers in the coffee shop by rapelling from the ceiling to grab his drink.
Dave and Busters introduced an arcade conversion of the 2014 mobile game Spider-Man Unlimited, which is now updated with custom assets from the new film.
Hot Wheels hopes to reconnect with Spider-Man’s comic book history with toy recreations of the Spider-Mobile. The dune buggy was first introduced in 1974 and the scale toys will be a San Diego Comic-Con exclusive later this month.
Accessories brand Charlotte Olympia also drew inspiration from the comic book style by releasing a limited edition line of shoes and purses with the iconic webbing pattern.
General Mills partnered with Sony to create Spider-Man-themed packaging for its fruit snacks and cereals, which included water squirters designed after the hero’s web shooters.
Sony is also using the excitement around Spider-Man: Homecoming to help boost promotion for the 2018 release of Marvel’s Spider-Man game for PS4.
“We’re influenced by certain situations, but this is an original story and these are original events,” Bryan Intihar, creative director for Marvel’s Spider-Man at Insomniac Studios, told AListDaily. “I’m a big Marvel fan, and as cool as it would be to recreate these events, I want to give people a new experience.”
Sony Pictures has had a difficult relationship with Spider-Man since the studio’s acquisition of the film rights in 1999. Spider-Man Homecoming marks Sony’s third attempt at creating a franchise around the comic book icon. Since 2002, Sony has experienced diminishing box office returns on their Spider-Man films.
It remains to be seen if the multifaceted marketing for the forthcoming film helps move the needle with moviegoers and the franchise’s fervent fans alike.