Deadpool, Cancer, and Innuendos- Oh my!

By: Jonathan Camargo

With the new Marvel movie “Deadpool” set to release on February 12, fans and critics alike are raving about the masked antihero who is set to sweep theatre screens nationwide. The movie’s marketing has been equally praised, with diverse spots appearing over just about every media platform imaginable. The “Deadpool” marketing team, however, chose a different direction in their social media campaign that I can say just about no one could have guessed, and that can best be summarized with their hashtag: #TouchYourselfTonight.

Before I get too carried away explaining the brilliance behind this campaign, I’ve got to give you some background as to who the character of Deadpool is. Wade Wilson, the true name of the Deadpool character, is a man who has been diagnosed with cancer, and given an opportunity to be cured of his ailment in return for being the guinea pig for an experimental serum with potentially fatal side effects. Wade lives and becomes Deadpool, the crude, comedic, dimension-breaking antihero of the Marvel universe who actively breaks the 4th wall by conversing with the readers of his comics.

Back on topic, however, the marketing department for Deadpool’s upcoming live-action film took a different route when it came to Deadpool’s social media presence, and by different route, I mean Deadpool himself becomes the agent behind the social media campaign. Preaching the hashtag #TouchYourselfTonight, Deadpool advocates for his male fans to regularly check for the signs of testicular cancer. This is extremely fitting for the character, who often makes, mind you I’m trying to say this as politically correct as possible, crude wisecracks about the male reproductive system. In the video game based on his character, there’s an entire section devoted just to these types of jokes alone (Warning: NSFW language). In the public service announcement, Deadpool addresses the fact that “testicular cancer is the most common form of cancer in men aged between 15 and 35,” which just so happens to constitute the majority of his fanbase. The Deadpool PSAs didn’t stop there, however, as a second installment of the #TouchYourselfTonight campaign was more recently released for women regarding breast cancer. Together, these two PSAs have accumulated over two million views on Youtube alone!

The #TouchYourselfTonight social media campaign is an excellent example of oddball entertainment advertising that had, up until Deadpool, not yet been fully utilized to its potential. While other marketing campaigns may try to issue PSAs about issues they’re attempting to tackle, with this M&M spot coming to mind regarding phone etiquette in the theater, Deadpool is able to actively reach out to his social media audience with his ability to crack the 4th wall and alert them of an issue that is both relevant to the movie and to society as a whole. Deadpool’s comedic nature also aids in the ability of making this touchy, no pun intended, subject approachable to the everyday person.

This campaign is, in my eyes, a social win because it eases the apprehension away from the consumer, making them aware of an issue that may affect them personally, all the while creating more buzz for the upcoming movie. It should also be noted that the first place these PSAs were released upon were on Ryan Reynolds’ own Youtube channel, therefore garnering even more potential impressions through Ryan’s own personal fanbase. The one thing they could do to improve on this campaign, in my opinion, would be for Deadpool himself to mention the PSAs offhandedly to the audience during his self-entitled film, which would tie back in with the antics of his 4th wall breaking self. Over all, however, there are simply so many things done right with this approach, that one commenter, with 695 thumbs up, said it best- “This marketing is unbelievable !!!!”


Beer, J. (2016, January 29). Deadpool’s Cancer PSA, Paul Rudd’s Quantum Chess: The Top 5 Ads Of The Week. Retrieved February 06, 2016, from
Cullers, R. (2016, February 01). Deadpool’s Wildly Unpredictable Ad Campaign Finds Time for a Testicular Cancer PSA. Retrieved February 06, 2016, from
Diaz, A. (2016, January 29). Deadpool Wants You to Check Your Man Berries. Retrieved February 07, 2016, from

Golgowski, N. (2016, February 02). Deadpool Urges You To Touch Yourself In Witty Cancer Screening PSAs. Retrieved February 06, 2016, from

Roth, M. (2016, January 29). Deadpool Wants You To ‘Touch Yourself’ Tonight — To Check For Testicular Cancer. Retrieved February 06, 2016, from

Tobin, K. (2016, February 04). Deadpool gets semi-serious with World Cancer Day PSAs. Retrieved February 07, 2016, from


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