Comcast branding win: People think the new Avengers movie is called ‘Xfinity War’

“Whenever you can get your brand name within the fabric of pop culture, it’s a home run.”

Billy Penn Illustration

The latest Avengers movie had a stellar second weekend, boosting its take over $1 billion and setting it on the path to becoming the first summer release to notch $2 billion in worldwide box office.

Infinity War’s popularity may or may not support the marketing claim that the flick is the “most ambitious crossover event in history.” Either way, the movie has made a different crossover, one Marvel and Disney Studios likely never intended:

Lots of people are calling the movie “Xfinity War” — and experts say that translates into a big branding win for Comcast.

The confusion is evident when you search for the term on Twitter. Although plenty of users are deliberately cracking a joke by making the swap, a much greater number of people are not.

Of a randomly chosen assortment of 100 chronologically ordered tweets containing “Xfinity War,” approximately 55 percent appeared to actually believe that’s the correct title.

Another 20 percent were people relaying IRL experiences where friends or family had gotten the names confused.

Comcast, which owns NBC Universal, has no connection with Disney Studios, and in fact may engage in a bidding war with the company over British TV network Sky. But that makes no difference when it comes to brand recognition, said David Neff, principal at Philly marketing and ad agency Neff Associates.

“Whenever you can get your brand name within the fabric of pop culture,” Neff explained to Billy Penn, “it’s a home run.”

It’s an especially positive development considering popular opinion of the Xfinity brand name started in the basement. When the new moniker for Comcast’s broadcast and cable operations was introduced in 2010, backlash was pretty severe.  A Gizmodo post about the rollout called it “the worst, pseudo-pornographic, retro-futuristic garbage marketing dollars can buy.” Engadget accused the company of “smearing” the brand name across its services.

The less-than-sanguine response might have had more to do with the company’s customer relations than the word itself, Neff said. The negativity, he suggested, “may have been more a reflection on the service — or lack thereof — that Comcast was providing its customers.”

Enjoy it or not, over the past eight years, Xfinity has become a household word for many Americans. And now it’s connected, rightly or not, with one of the biggest pop hits in modern history.

“When you spend hundreds of millions of dollars promoting something, you will always get share of mind,” Neff said. “Here you have hundreds of millions of dollars promoting the movie, which is now colliding with the hundreds of millions of dollars that are being spent to promote the Xfinity brand.”

How does Comcast feel about all this?

Contacted via phone and email, executives did not answer an official request for comment. However, all who listened to the explanation about the “Xfinity War” phenomenon seemed highly amused.

Although there’s no official connection, it could be smart for Comcast to look for ways to take advantage of the confusion, offered local branding specialist Anthony Stipa.

“Anytime you can capitalize on a culture shift, that’s an opportunity for a marketer,” Stipa said. “If you see something that’s positive, getting traction on social media…there are line items in budgets to veer off and try new things.”

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