Marketing Minions (and How It Was Done Right)

The Minions movie premieres this week – July 10th, to be exact. If you haven’t seen the minion-ized Amazon boxes delivered to your doorstep, then you must have at least seen the yellow trouble-makers hanging out in your local movie theater’s lobby. Maybe you’ve passed “#BEEDO” in a caption on your Insta-feed, and through all of this, you may have asked yourself why you’re seeing minion everything, everywhere. Sure, they have a movie premiering, but why has positive minion-reinforcement been the right way to promote their feature film? Trust me when I tell you, we’ll get to that – this is, after all, a marketing blog. But right about now, I’m sure others are asking…

What are minions?

They’re yellow, huggable, lovable, squishy little beings – some have one eye, some have two, but they’re all just the cutest things. Party MinionsThey’re what they’re named after – minions, always in search of the most despicable of masters. They’re latest, and greatest, is Gru (see Despicable Me 1 & 2), but the Minions movie is set in B.G. time (Before Gru) and will show how the minions came to be. We’ll see their variety of old-school villainous masters, including Scarlet Overkill (voiced by Sandra Bullock).

Why are they, and their film, so adorably important?

I’m so glad you asked! The Minions film has been highly anticipated since it was announced, which is solely due to the fact that a brand has been surprisingly created (and successful). Though the minions are considered the “supporting actors” of the Despicable Me films (which grossed over $1.5 billion worldwide), they’ve emerged as fan-favorites. With over 40-million downloads of Despicable Me: Minion Rush and 50-million Facebook fans, Illumination Entertainment was presented with a not-so-expected minion-tunity (minion opportunity, obviously!). We see hundreds of these unique characters throughout the first two DM films, yet they’re more memorable than some of the leads (apologies, Dr. Nefario). Whether it’s due to their impeccable comedic timing or those big eyes, the minions have become stars in their own right. 

What makes them marketable?

The minions provide immense amounts of entertainment and feature a mass appeal unparalleled by other animated characters. Illumination Entertainment thought they were creating mini-yellow “things” to make Gru more likable, but what they got out of their creation are scene stealers that draw attention from their adorable little faces to their mumbo-jumbo language. They make 5-year olds giddy, have 20-year olds giggling, and parents can hardly hide their smiles. Tell me – with a reach like that, how could they not create marketing mayhem?

So, who’s getting in on the minion fun?

Marketing the Minions film had to be done right, because its Despicable Me predecessors left quite large shoes to fill. With Despicable Me 3 slated for a 2017 release, this film needs to make us LOL hard enough to make up for the two-year gap. By introducing multiple big-wig players into the game, Illumination Entertainment has navigated their way through an extensive campaign the right way by taking the characters people love and providing an opportunity to connect with various companies.

The grandest of grand collaborations – Universal Studios + Minions = Minion Mayhem. The introduction of this theme park area in both their Florida and Hollywood locations has fans over-the-moon happy. Guest go through extensive minion training, hop on the 3-D ride, and join a minion dance party when they’re done! Minion MayhemConsidering Universal Studios features the likes of Harry Potter, Marvel and Jurassic Park in their themed areas, it’s quite the compliment to Illumination Entertainment (and their little yellow buddies) to be included.

Why It Works: Universal Studios has been building the minion brand since the ride’s 2012 Florida installation, which has proven to be a great interactive platform for the film’s premiere.

As you (should) know, bananas are the minions absolute favorite food –  why that is, no one knows (yet), but Chiquita Brands are scooping up the opportunity to re-implement their promotional campaign. They originally partnered with Illumination Entertainment in 2013 for the release of Despicable Me 2 and are now offering a different kind of intrigue. Each banana features a unique, collectible minion sticker that coincides with their print-ad/social media campaigns, as well as online games and their sweepstakes trip to London.

Why It Works: Chiquita’s limited-edition approach reaches kids’ desire to have anything minion and parents’ desire to keep a balanced diet for their kids. Win-win, am I right?

The most recent, and exciting, development has been Amazon’s partnership with Universal Studios and Illumination Entertainment – all Amazon.com orders now come in bright yellow delivery boxes of all sizes. They feature images of minions, a URL that links customers directly to an exclusive minion-themed portion of the Amazon site, and a featured hashtag. By taking a photo with the box and using #MinionsBoxes in the caption, you’re instantly entered to win a $1,000 gift card to Amazon. If that isn’t incentive, I don’t know what is!

Why It Works: Taking an online retailer such as Amazon is a great way to create the minions e-presence. It encourages minion-paraphernalia purchases with the direct Amazon site, while building a social media campaign around the #MinionsBoxes. It gives great publicity to both the Minions movie and Amazon, who even offers a reward for following their hashtagged call-to-action.

Aside from that, all movie theaters feature pop-up minions in their lobbies and encourage the use of fan photos with the caption “#BEEDO” to share excitement for the film. Minions have invaded everything from household items to snacks, popping up on labels for Tic-Tacs, Twinkies and Swiffers. Sandra Bullock even rocked minion fashion in the form of high-end footwear, provided by Rupert Sanderson’s limited-edition Minions Bello Yellow Collection. Honestly, I doubt anyone’s surprised that everyone is getting involved in the minion mayhem.

Okay, so why does marketing the minions matter?

In the grand scheme of things, it goes to show how something small can be made rather large (literally and figuratively). Minions weren’t the stars of the Despicable Me films, but they’re now stars of their own making (or their designers’). They’ve become an all-encompassing marketing treat – they are accessible on every level for every business, and it’s impossible not to have a grand old time creating a campaign around them. Seriously, just writing about them makes me want to (re)watch the three different movie trailers. These fun-filled, universally-loved characters come from Illumination Entertainment, yet somehow Amazon, Universal Studios, Chiquita Brands and various other retailers are maximizing profit from the minion brand. Social media, print ads and short films/movie previews all unite to create a cohesive Minions movie campaign that includes a variety of players. Isn’t it interesting how the love of a character can bring businesses, not just viewers, together?

What’re your plans for July 10th? I know where I’ll be… fuzzy minion blanket and all :)

Interestingly yours,Headshot

Morganne, #MESHMinion