Transformers 4 and the Rise of International Marketing

In the early 1960s, Marshall McLuhan theorized that electronic technology was creating a “global village”. News and information would travel faster and farther, connecting us together on a global scale like never before.

That’s never been more true than it is today. Technology has made the distance between continents largely irrelevant. With the rise of the Internet, the world has become one big audience.

Increasing Importance of International Audiences

For companies, this has opened doors to new markets and interest around the world. Japan may offer a huge opportunity for your small comic book company. A distributor in Africa may have a need for the industrial product your produce.

The international audience has become so important, it is now emerging as a central focus—even dictating product creation and marketing strategy.

A notable example from the film industry…

For big-studio American movies, a film’s financial fate was once primarily in the hands of U.S. audiences. But we’ve seen that shift dramatically in recent years. The international box office for big films now typically exceeds U.S. receipts.

This makes all the sense in the world considering there are more theaters in foreign territories than the U.S. alone, but it still wasn’t the case until recently.

Transformers 4: Age of Extinction is a prime example of not only the power of the international market but also its influence on the product.

This giant statue of Optimus Prime was erected in Hong Kong to promote Transformers 4

After seeing huge returns from China for Transformers 3: Dark of the Moon, the strategic decision was made to incorporate that country into the next movie. That’s the reason the third act of Transformers 4 is set in Hong Kong.

And the strategy has paid off. To date, Transformers 4 has earned more in China than it has at the domestic box office. In fact, it only took 11 days for the film to become the highest-grossing film EVER in China.

Creating a different product for a different market…

Another example of content developed to increase marketing appeal in another country is Rian Johnson’s 2012 film Looper.

At the insistence of the film’s Chinese financiers and marketers, scenes once set in Paris were moved to Shanghai. And additional scenes set in Shanghai that were cut from the film were added back in for the Chinese version.


The film went on to gross $20 million in China—it’s second highest-grossing territory next to the United States. These are not the mammoth numbers of Transformers 4, but Looper only cost $30 million to make compared with Transformers 4’s $210 million budget. So, it’s all a matter of scale.

Transform Your Marketing for International Appeal

Just like the film industry, more and more companies (big and small) are finding a growing international audience. If you find your brand presence growing in certain countries or you identify opportunities for international growth, capitalize on them in your marketing.

Develop ways to incorporate your international audience in your branding and your messaging. Create marketing that appeals to that specific geography and culture (the same efforts that appeal to U.S. audiences will not necessarily translate). By opening your brand to the opportunity of becoming international, you open the door to future growth on a global scale.


BONUS: Check out this awesome video about the making of Transformers 4 created entirely on a computer desktop. Word on the street is it’s better than the actual film. 





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