Iron Fist is probably Marvel Television and Netflix’s most risky project outside of the first season Daredevil. It is a character just as, or maybe even more, unknown as Doctor Strange was before his titular film. With controversy behind this project reaching new heights, especially with recent critical reception, it is still rather surprising how muted the entire marketing strategy feels for this project.
Something many may have noticed is that Netflix, in general, does not have that strong of a marketing push. Even earlier Marvel shows such as Daredevil, Jessica Jones and Luke Cage approached it subtly, with a strong focus on trailers and motion posters. There were some cooperations, especially with Hadley Media’s graffiti promotion for Daredevil.
Luke Cage had a similar situation in its marketing campaign. The show was released on September 30th, 2016. The first teaser wasn’t dropped until May 18th, which is only around four months before the official release. The drop was even quite subtle as it was tagged on at the end of the second season of Daredevil. The first official trailer finally dropped until the beginning of August. What follows were a variety of posters with the different characters and a few motion poster featuring Cage himself around the last two weeks before release. The final trailer would not arrive until September 26th, just four days before its official release. This is a trend that started with Daredevil‘s second season, as its final trailer came out three days before its release on March 15th.
In turn, we actually got the Iron Fist teaser at San Diego Comic Con around the same time. The official release date was then subsequently confirmed in a teaser on October 4th during New York Comic Con. Unlike Luke Cage’s entire trailer offering an update, we actually got a separate video teaser. The push for this show actually started off quite strong in comparison to the other shows. So far we have received two main trailers, and if we go by previous releases a third trailer will follow in the last week before release. About Media also revealed a subtle cooperation that gives viewers some content-driven advertisement, but only those that are part of the CHIVE community. It offers a retrospective on the characters’ past in the 90s and even some teases for the upcoming show.
Why does it seem much more low-key in comparison to other shows? If compared to the promotion Doctor Strange, who suffered from a similar starting position, the films pushed the character much more in the public eye, as films live off of their viewer count. Netflix does not require this approach, as they don’t live off the views like many TV networks do. People that’ll view Iron Fist are already subscribed and paying for the service. Their marketing strategy is to build awareness and word-of-mouth rather than really pulling in viewers. In the end, the controversy actually gives the show more promotion than any massive amount of trailers and posters could.
Interestingly, Netflix moved away from certain advertising strategies they learned from the first two shows. The motion poster showing off the characters in a street with the Avengers tower in the background was never used passed Jessica Jones. Small teaser videos were now only used to announce additional seasons, or release dates. It shows that Netflix learned from the first shows and has adapted its marketing strategy as a whole. This could also be a reason why Iron Fist seems so off the radar this year. It simply simplified its approach, as it saves money and they don’t truly win any new subscribers just for pushing out more posters or trailers.
The show premieres this Friday and there is still some time for them to push the show’s marketing a bit more. Maybe the subtlety was supposed to be a sign of the show’s Zen and in a twist of irony fits the supposed slower pace the show seems to have. Some fear that the show lacks any true promotion due to Marvel TV not having any trust in the project. It may seem that way due to the recent critical backlash and rumors that it was planned to be shelved at one point. If we go by past marketing strategies of the company, it seems quite in line with what they tend to do marketing-wise. In the end, it might be the result of a lack in hype for this show so far, but that could change if Netflix stays on tract and releases its final trailer this week to get people interested for its release.